The last of the Eastern Conference opponents roll in to the Sommet Center tonight as the Broadway Blueshirts take on the Predators in a battle of two teams fighting for playoff positioning. The Preds hold down the 8th spot in the Western Conference, tied with 7th place Edmonton at 71 points, with the Oil having a game in hand on the Preds. Close on the heels of the Preds are Minnesota, Dallas, and Anaheim, each with 70 points. The Rangers occupy the 9th position in the East with 76 points, trailing 8th place Florida by one point and 7th place Carolina by two points.
This shapes up a a battle between two hungry, desperate squads looking to solidify playoff positioning. The Rangers Henrik Lundqvist will be back in net tonight after missing several games with a stomach ailment. Pekka Rinne also returns tonight after missing the last game for the same reason. The current reigning NHL bad boy, the cowardly Sean Avery (see if he will ever drop the gloves), brings his sideshow in for the Rangers. I'm guessing that somewhere between now and the end of the season volatile and opinionated Coach John Tortorella's head might actually explode from dealing with Avery and the current composition of his Rangers squad. Jason Arnott is questionable tonight after a major collision he sustained in the Caps game.
After tonight, the Preds embark on a 4 game West Coast swing. Counting tonight's game against the Rangers, there are 10 critical points up for grabs in the next seven days. I believe we have to get a least 8 of them to continue our playoff hopes. This is not a time for finesse or the faint of heart. This is the time for focused, intense, full-bore hockey. Pucks at the net, crash the crease and leave it all on the ice. We will take what happens if you play that way, boys. Don't disappoint.