Game day finds the Preds back at the friendly confines of the Sommet Center for a 7:00 faceoff against the Anaheim Ducks, a team the Preds faced last Wednesday. The Preds picked up a point in that game, losing 4-3 in OT. What had been a non-existent power play for the Ducks awoke in that game, clicking at a rate of 60% (3 for 5 with the man advantage). Since then, the Duck's power play has been scorching, most recently going 5 for 5 against the Desert Dogs on Saturday night, and 7 for 12 in their last three games. Anaheim is now on a three game win streak and starting to play with some of the swagger that we are used to seeing from this team. Currently, the Ducks sit 9th in the Western Conference playoff race with 76 points, one point behind the 8th place Predators. I would expect Anaheim to hit the ice with lots of intensity tonight, and it is essential that the Preds come out flying and match that intensity.
Jason Arnott and Wade Belak are out tonight, and it is doubtful that Ryan Jones will play. Jonesy tweaked his back lifting weights on Monday. The severity of the injury and how long he will be off the ice is unknown at this time. On a positive note, Radek Bonk will be back on the ice tonight after missing 12 games with a separated shoulder.
This is playoff hockey. Heck, it has been playoff hockey since the All-Star break. We are now down to 10 games left in the regular season: 5 home and 5 road. This week begins a critical week of hockey for the Preds as they have 3 home games,all against teams they faced last week on their west coast swing. Win tonight, and we separate from Anaheim and make it more difficult for them to overtake us for the playoffs. Lose, and the shoe (or the skate) is on the other foot. This is desperation hockey against a strong opponent and playing shorthanded. The team has taken the approach of "Shut up and play", dealing with whatever situation that have to face with grit and intensity. Tonight, their play will speak loudly to their playoff chances. Pred fans- while this team may shut up and play, it's time to bring it. Noise, energy, and passion.
The puck drops at 7:00. Time to leave it all on the ice, boys.