at ANAHEIM DUCKS
February 27th, 2013
9:00 p.m. CST
Anaheim leads season series, 2-0-0
Tonight the Nashville Predators meet the Anaheim Ducks tonight for the third and final time this season. It’s the first of a three-game road trip for the Preds, who have lost twice in shootouts to the Ducks so far this season.
(9-6-5, 2nd in Central)
After two consecutive shutout losses, the Preds responded Monday night with a 5-4 comeback win at home against Dallas. The hero of the night was Roman Josi, who scored two goals including the overtime winner. Some of that offense would be very helpful against the Ducks, who average 3.24 goals per game themselves.
Shea Weber (3G-5A) is nearing the neighborhood of his career points-per-game pace again thanks to some strong performances this month. The one area that still hasn’t picked up for him yet is the power play, where he remains pointless through 20 games. That’s been one of the sore spots for the team as a whole, which means a Weber breakthrough would be a Nashville breakthrough.
Pekka Rinne (8-5-4, 1.90 GAA, .926 SV%) has fallen off from his pace early in the month, giving up four goals in each of his last two starts, and still has some of the best numbers of any goalie in the NHL. A rebound game from him would go a long way toward helping the Preds start another winning streak.
Others to watch
Roman Josi (3G-4A) and Craig Smith (2G-2A) have both shown signs of life lately after very slow starts to the season, ranking fifth and sixth on the team in shots on goal. Before the season began it was expected that both of them would contribute, so this is a good sign for the team.
Scott Hannan (0G-1A) has one of the toughest jobs on the team. He’s currently sporting a −8 rating on the year and has been victimized on some pretty nasty goals. He’s bounced around the defensive pairings more than any other Nashville blueliner.
(13-3-1, 1st in Pacific)
The Ducks don’t shoot much more often than Nashville (27.5 shots per game to 24.6), but they score quite a bit more. Given that shooting percentage fluctuates wildly, some people are projecting a fall for Anaheim. But their luck has held up so far this year for the second-best record in the Western Conference.
Viktor Fasth (8-1-0, 2.01, .924) has been incredible in net during his rookie NHL season, but he looked very human in Monday’s 4-2 loss to the Kings. He gave up four goals on 24 shots, three of them at even strength, as the Ducks’ six-game winning streak finally came to an end.
The entire Anaheim offense has been clicking this year. Captain Ryan Getzlaf (6G-12A) leads a cast of 10 players with at least four goals, including six(!) players with five goals each.
Others to watch
The best season Francois Beauchemin (2G-10A) ever had in the NHL came in 2005-06 when he scored eight goals and 26 assists. He’s currently on pace to tie that mark…in a 48-game, lockout-shortened season.
Anaheim has already wrapped up the season series with the Nashville Predators thanks to its two shootout wins. But the Preds could still walk away with the same number of points as the Ducks from their three games if they can win in regulation tonight. That would also help them keep pace with St. Louis and Detroit in the Central Division; even though Nashville is in second place, both teams have games in hand on the Preds at the moment.