Jay Feaster is working Miikka Kiprusoff into the ground one more time. (PHOTO: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Gameday: Nashville Predators at Calgary Flames, 3/15/13

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

at CALGARY FLAMES

March 15th, 2013
Scotiabank Saddledome
Calgary, Alberta
8:00 p.m. CDT
TV: FOX Sports Tennessee

The Nashville Predators come in on no rest tonight to face the Calgary Flames for the first of three games this season.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

(11-10-6, 4th in Central)

NHL: Nashville Predators at Vancouver Canucks

Pekka Rinne didn’t play well – or get help from his teammates – last night in Vancouver. (PHOTO: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

The Preds are coming off yet another loss, this one 7-4 to Vancouver. They continue to struggle with balance this season, mostly unable to put defense and offense together for more than a single game at a time. Just 3-6-1 over their last 10 games, they’re in danger off falling back from the playoff pack for good if they can’t get something going very soon.

Key players

Not all of the bad juju last night was the fault of Pekka Rinne (10-8-5, 2.13 GAA, .919 SV%) but he played a lower standard of game than Preds fans have come to expect. It was the sixth time in his 24 starts that he’s given up at least four goals. He’s getting the call again tonight, according to Coach Barry Trotz. Can he get his act back together on short notice?

NHL: Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars

Shea Weber has 13 points in his last 14 games. (PHOTO: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Remember how Shea Weber (4G-10A) went pointless for nine games to start the season? He now has 13 points in his last 14 games. Last night saw his second four-game point streak of the season come to an end, but not for a lack of trying: the captain put six shots on net.

Others to watch

With an assist on Nick Spaling’s goal last night, Zach Boychuk (1G-1A) earned his second point in three games with Nashville. His hometown of Airdrie, Alberta, isn’t too far away, so this game will be a homecoming of sorts for him – if Barry Trotz keeps him in the lineup.

If Scott Hannan (0G-1A, −10 rating) is in the lineup tonight, there’s something very wrong with this team. Hannan was on the ice for four of the goals given up to the Canucks, at least two of which could be tied directly to bad play on his part.

CALGARY FLAMES

(10-11-4, 5th in Northwest)

One of just a handful of teams in the Western Conference faring worse than Nashville this season, the Flames have a very old roster with a very bad defense. Between GM Jay Feaster and coach Bob Hartley, the fans in Calgary have their hands full. Still, their 5-4-1 record over their last 10 games is two wins better than Nashville’s.

Key players

Perhaps the only Finnish goalie relied on more heavily than Pekka Rinne is Miikka Kiprusoff (4-5-2, 3.30, .878). His numbers are far from spectacular in the 11 games he’s played around a stint on IR, but he’s coming off a win against the Red Wings in which he stopped 36 of 38 shots.

Jarome Iginla (7G-12A) and Alex Tanguay (8G-12A) are bringing back shades of the early 2000s with their offensive production.

Others to watch

Curtis Glencross (9G-6A) leads the Flames in goalscoring this season and was instrumental in the team’s 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings earlier this week.

Bottom line

The Nashville Predators looked bad last night, but not the same sort of bad we’ve seen through most of the season. They actually almost battled back to tie the game late, showing the kind of resilience that’s been lacking this year. Calgary’s defense is bad enough to give up goals to Nashville’s offense. If they have any plans of making the playoffs, the Preds will have to take full advantage of that – and then rely on the guy in net to keep the Flames from doing the same.

Tags: Calgary Flames Featured Nashville Predators Popular