Game Time: 7:30 PM
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN AM 720
Tim McGraw Apologists: On the Forecheck
Ahh.. what better scary moment could we ask for on Halloween than the prospect of having to face the Predators and the twin headed monster that is Shea Weber and Ryan Suter? We've become well accustomed to what the Predators are bringing to the team over the past few years. Behind the obvious enemies in the Canucks and Scum, the Predators might rank up there among our most despised opponents. They're constantly annoying, constantly frustrating and worst of all.. constantly boring.
Same as it ever was, the Predators will rely on secondary scoring to win their games... mostly because they don't actually posses any first rate forwards. Last year's scoring leader for the Preds was Sergei Kostitsyn with 23 goals. Those 23 goals would have made him 5th overall on the Hawks... in other words just ahead of Bryan Bickell. The biggest news for them offensively wasn't perhaps picking up a 30-40 goal scorer and true threat but rather just re-signing the man forever known to me as "Little Tits" thanks to Four Habs Fans. Oh, and he's questionable tonight anyway with a leg injury.
But offense isn't where the Predators will kill you. There are three areas where they excel 1)the defense - led by Suter and Weber 2)in goal - where Pekka Rinne has a .930Sv% and 2.24 GAA and 3)a complete and exhausting dedication to their coach's system. The first two are obvious. Suter and Weber are perhaps the best defensive pairing in the NHL (and good luck getting Trotz to ever split that up). They bring size, skill and in Weber's case, one of the hardest shots in the league for good measure. Pekka Rinne has become one of the best goalies in the league and would get a lot more praise playing anywhere outside of the Volunteer State.
What is perhaps most amazing out of the Preds though is their ability to get so much out of seemingly so little and that always comes back to Barry Trotz, the man who sold his neck to the devil in order to find a group of players that dedicate themselves wholly to his suffocating style of play. I'll have this post up for about 5 minutes before a Predators fan (you know who) will come over and say they don't play the trap and while they may have an argument, no one is going to confuse the style played now by the Hawks, Avs or Nucks with what Nashville pushes out there. And sadly for us, few teams do it better than the Preds. It won't keep you on the edge of your seat, but it'll continue to be effective. Especially against the Hawks who seem determined to play their style no matter what the other team counters with.
It's not all bad news though - the Hawks seem to find a way to win against the Predators despite all the set backs and boarding calls with 1:03 left. The Hawks went 3-1-2 against the Predators last year and look to continue to on this year. Early reports seem to indicate that we'll at least get to see what Sami Lepisto looks like two games in a row. For whatever unknown reason though - Q won't commit to sitting John Scott in favor of Rusty Olesz on the 4th line. I've run out of jokes for reasons why this continues to happen... it's beyond frustrating. How could a guy look so bad in practice that he can't be trusted with 2 minutes of ice time? He'd basically have to just continuously fall over...
Anyways - The Hawks remain fully capable of beating the Predators but will need to commit early to playing a full 100% effort game because we know the Predators will do the same. Two points will go a long way as the Hawks gear up for their first long stretch of road games this year.
Lets Go Hawks