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Nashville Cats - Hurricanes at Predators, Pregame Musings

The Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators grace the presence of the Versus television network tonight in the only meeting between the teams this year. Nashville is currently in 2nd place behind Detroit in the much improved Central Division and has a respectable 27-21-5 record. The Hurricanes are tied for the Southeast Division lead with Atlanta but are just four points away from dropping to 4rth place.

The Canes have won 2 out of 3 games since the All-Star break and the Preds are shooting for their 4rth win in a row at home. NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman will be in attendance tonight and will hold a propoganda informational meeting with the Nashville season ticketholders before the game. Outstanding Predator blogger and sportscaster, Paul McCann has more news here.

Cam Ward is expected to be in goal tonight, but the official lineups have not been announced as yet. Allow me to offer my input regarding how I think the lines should start out.

  • Brind'Amour-Samsonov-Whitney

  • Staal-Stillman-Cole

  • Aucoin-Walker-Ladd

  • Letowski-LaRose-Brookbank

Yep, I switched things up. I would try out the old line of Stillman, Cole, and Staal once again. This line used to be one of the best in the NHL 2 years ago, why not give them another shot? The Hurricanes need Stillman to come alive somehow, and Cole needs a spark as well. Maybe this change can get them producing?

Ray Whitney has always played well with Brind'Amour and I think that this line with Samsonov is a natural. You can mix and match the other lines, depending upon who has the most jump and who is playing best. The defensive pairings really don't matter.

The Hurricanes need to tighten things up in the 3rd period. It's been well publicized that they lead the NHL in scoring in the 3rd, but I didn't realize until recently that they also are near the worst in the league for allowing the most goals in that same period.

Scott Walker will be making his first appearance in Nashville since he signed as a free agent with Carolina 2 years ago. (other than pre-season) The long-time Predator captain probably still has more than a few good memories of the place. Maybe he'll show his old fans that he can still drop the gloves and slug it out with the best of them.

Caniacs should keep an eye on some of the young defensive talent on Nashville. It's been rumored that Jim Rutherford is focused on one or more of these guys. Would you trade Erik Cole, or Andrew Ladd, or both for Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, or Dan Hamhuis? It's not easy being a general manager.

Bubba's no-brainer keys to the game...

  • play 60 minutes of hockey

  • stay out of the penalty box and give the last place penalty killers in the league some time off

  • stay tight in the defensive zone - don't allow time and space

  • clear the rebounds in front of "Wardo"

The other top teams in the division are playing tonight as well, so it is very possible that there could be some switching of places before the night is through. Game time is at 8 locally.

Lovin' Spoonful