This is it friends, once the Hawks finish this game they finally come back to our sweet home and play 16 in the UC and only 7 more on the road. For a team that's 15-5-5 playing in front of a home crowd that's something to be excited about. Of course they are also only 1-3-1 in the last 5 at home but lets not focus on that right now. Looking ahead will only get you in trouble so lets just focus on the Predators tonight.
The Hawks are coming into this game with a dead-even 1-1-1 record against the Preds so far this year and in none of those games (even the victory) have the Hawks put on a good show against this team. After being robbed of two points on Sunday's game lets hope the Hawks not only come out on fire but get a few of the breaks going their way tonight.
They're facing a team from Nashville that's quickly watching their playoff hopes slip away. They're 4 points out of the final spot now but they've played more games than anyone ahead of them (except for the Ducks) and they also just escaped being caught by the Blues in points with an OT victory this past Saturday. They'll need to start racking up some points and should be looking to start off a 5 game home stand the right way.
This would be yet another great game to break in Niemi as the Predators are the lowest scoring team in the league this year with only 138 goals and a 2.30 goals per game average. But with Huet playing as hot as he has been I'd expect to see him in the net once again. According to The Trib, Q also expects Khabby to be back in practice this week so Niemi could have just been practicing opening and closing the bench door during this trip. Rinne will be between the pipes for Nashville and he's been having a pretty great year. He's near the top of the league in shutouts (5) and his GAA is tied with two others for 5th overall at 2.23.
Who is he tied with? Well - one of those guys is our own Frenchie - Cristobal Huet. In fact, these two goalies are so alike it's scary. Check it out:
|2008 - Cristobal Huet||32||1827||17||11||3||3||68||2.23||834||766||.918||3|
|2008 - Pekka Rinne||32||1779||17||10||1||4||66||2.23||856||790||.923||5|
Same number of games played - same number of wins - identical GAA. The only place there's some break away is in SV% and Shutouts, with RInne having the edge.
Where we see some real separation in the teams obviously comes in the offensive production. Jean-Pierre Dumont leads the Preds with 42 points. That would put him 5th overall on the Hawks roster - just above Brian Campbell. Another big differece comes in +/-, the Preds have no one above +5 while the Hawks have 4 skaters who are +20 or better (and 15 above +5). The Predators also have 12 players with a negative CORSI rating, while the Hawks only have one - and that's Sopel.
This is running long - but I think it's fair to say that this is yet another team the Hawks should easily beat, yet have hard time doing so. If the Hawks play the game they played on Sunday it will take another phnonmenal effort from the goalie... so lets hope that doesn't happen. See you in the comments.
Lets Go Hawks