When Colin Wilson plays well, so do the Nashville Predators. (PHOTO: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports)

Gameday: Minnesota Wild at Nashville Predators, 3/9/13

MINNESOTA WILD

at NASHVILLE PREDATORS

March 9th, 2013
Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, Tennessee
7:00 p.m. CST
TV: FOX Sports Tennessee
Season series tied 1-1

Ryan Suter returns to Nashville for the first time since committing treason thinking of his family first by accepting a ginormous contract in his wife’s home state. Prepare for a smattering of polite applause from Nashville Predators fans when Game Ops shows his video, plus lots and lots of boos.

MINNESOTA WILD

(11-9-2, 2nd in Northwest)

The Minnesota Wild have gone 6-4-1 since they last met the Predators in St. Paul. That game was an overtime win for the Wild, thanks to a 4-on-3 power play created by a linesman’s terrible botched penalty call.

Key players

Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom

Niklas Backstrom is 1-1 against the Nashville Predators this season. (PHOTO: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

Something something something, Ryan Suter (1G-14A).

Niklas Backstrom (9-6-2, 2.41 GAA, .911 SV%) has a 1.94 GAA and .924 save percentage against the Preds in their two games against Minnesota this season. That’s significantly better than he’s played against the Western Conference as a whole.

Others to watch

Captain Mikko Koivu (4G-14A) is the Wild’s leading points man, while Zach Parise (8G-7A) and Dany Heatley (8G-5A) are the co-leaders for most goals scored.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

(10-9-5, 4th in Central)

Nashville Predators forward Colin Wilson

Colin Wilson had the best game of his career against Edmonton last night. (PHOTO: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)

The Preds are 5-7-1 since they last lost to Minnesota. It could’ve been worse if not for last night’s huge win against the Edmonton Oilers.

Key players

There is no player more important to the Nashville Predators offense than Colin Wilson (7G-12A). Nashville is 8-1-2 this season when he tallies a point, and 2-8-3 when he doesn’t. They’re also 4-1-0 when he scores more than one point in a game.

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne

Pekka Rinne earned his fourth shutout of the season last night against Edmonton. (PHOTO: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)

It looks like Pekka Rinne (9-8-4, 2.15, .917) is going to start coming off no rest tonight. He did that last week and it didn’t work out too well for him, but he’s coming off a strong performance in last night’s game that didn’t require him to be superhuman. If he can maintain his focus tonight the Preds will be in much better shape than they have been in most games lately.

Others to watch

My eyes are still in Victor Bartley, Zach Boychuk, and Bobby Butler. All three played well last night, and their presence adds some much-needed comeptition to the Preds roster. If they can maintain their level of play, will the rest of the team do the same?

Bottom line

Nashville looked like a different team last night against Edmonton: different lines, different attitude, and different result. Lather, rinse, repeat, and everything should be fine against Minnesota and that expensive defenseman of theirs.

Tags: Minnesota Wild Nashville Predators

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