By Amanda DiPaolo
Colorado Avalanche 25-24-6
Nashville Predators 29-19-7
Saturday night, the Nashville Predators host the Colorado Avalanche for the first time in the 2010-11 season. They have met once this season and will face off against each other two additional times after Saturday night’s contest. On January 20th, Nashville handidly won by a score of 5-1. In the last five meetings between the two clubs, Nashville enjoys a 4-1-0 record.
The Predators are coming off of a 4-1 win in Detroit. Friday night, in Peter Frosberg’s debut back with the Avs, Colorado lost their sixth straight game, 3-1 to Columbus.
Saturday’s game features the debut of Mike Fisher as a Nashville Predator as well as the return of Forsberg to Bridgestone Arena.
Fisher’s reaction to being traded to Nashville was that it was a ‘perfect fit.’ Initial reactions to the trade from the media have already highlighted that he is a consistent 20-goal scorer, gritty, and a hard worker with 14 goals and 10 assists for 24 points on the season.
But a closer analysis of Fisher’s numbers show that he averages 18:25 per game which is more than any Nashville forward. The 30 year old center also averages 2:34 per game of power play time and plays on average 1:40 per game short-handed. Fisher has blocked 59 shots which rank third among the entire League for forwards. The only forward on the team to have more hits than Fisher’s 91 is Jerred Smithson, who has 104 hits.
Forsberg will play his second game back in the NHL in Nashville Saturday night. On Friday, in Columbus, Forsberg played 17:38, included almost a minute of power play time. Forsberg finished at -1 and registered one shot on goal.
Forsberg played 17 games with the Predators in 2007. Nashville acquired Forsberg from Philadelphia as a rental player but he came at a cost. The Predators gave up Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent, a first-round and third-round draft picks.
Nashville finished with 110 points that season, a franchise record. Forsberg had 15 points in 17 games, and was supposed to be the player that lead the team in the post season to playoff success. Nashville lost in the first round, but Forsberg registered four points in five playoff games.
Forsberg was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers but started his career in the Avalanche organization. He was sent to the Quebec Nordiques along with two first round draft picks, and $15 million in exchange for Eric Lindros, who, though drafted by Quebec refused to play for the team.
Forsberg played most of his 11 NHL seasons with the organization, except for the two seasons he played with the Flyers and the 17 games he put in with Nashville. Forsberg did not play at all during the 2001-02 season due to after having his spleen removed.
Forsberg has 249 goals and 636 assists in 706 NHL games and is also a +242 during the span of his career.
The Predators two most consistent players as of late each reached milestones on Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings.
Captain Shea Weber recorded point number 200 of his career. Weber assisted on Nashville’s power play goal in the second period Wednesday night. The defenseman now has 74 goals and 126 assists.
Weber has five points, 2 goals and 3 assists, in five of his last six games and has 19 points (5 goals and 14 assists) in his last 19 games to lead the team in points with 10 goals and 24 assists for 34 points.
Sergei Kostitsyn recorded his 100th career point on Wednesday night in Detroit. Kostitsyn scored the power play goal and recorded an assist to reach the 100-point mark. Kostitsyn has 9 points in his last 9 games including 4 goals and 5 assists.
In the last six games, Nashville has killed off all but one penalty, 20 of 21 disadvantages. Nashville ranks third in the League for penalty killing at 86 percent, but tied for first on the penalty kill on home ice (89.2 percent). Colorado is ninth on the power play and will have to try to stay out of the box.
Nashville is also first in the League in goals-against average on home ice at 2.00. That number drops to 1.91 when shootout goals are not counted. Overall, Nashville is fourth in the NHL in goals against average at 2.31.
Like the Predators, Colorado has dealt with their fair share of injuries this season. Peter Mueller has been out with a concussion before the regular season even got under way. Kyle Quincey is out for the rest of the season after having shoulder surgery. Tomas Fleischmann is also out for the rest of the season due to blood clots in his lungs.
Kyle Cumiskey is out indefinitely with a head injury, and T.J. Galiardi is out indefinitely with a wrist injury.
Nashville’s injury list continues to include Matthew Lombardi and Francis Bouillon out with concussions, Marek Svatos out with a knee injury and Cal O’Reilly out with a broken leg.