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Back-to-Smashville: Canes at Preds Game Day Preview


The Carolina Hurricanes don't have long to savor the scintillating overtime win at home last night as they are set to get back on the ice at 8pm Eastern at the Nashville Predators' Bridgestone Arena. This is the two teams' second meet-up in two weeks. The last game, played here in Raleigh November 20th, was a boring  tedious  showcase of clogging up the middle and maintaining the steady grinding discipline, never surrending to the seduction of chancier play. Though the Canes lost it in a shootout (having lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in identical fashion the night before), Coach Paul Maurice was [surprisingly?] pleased with his young players' ability to stick with the program for almost every shift.

Tonight the Canes should arrive with more juice coming off an OT win, and with four days of rest and full-throttle practice. Will they be able to get back in the grind-it-out mode after the run-and-gun last night with the Colorado Avalanche

Canes Country's Blogmeister Bob Wage is in Nashville for the game tonight. He expects to be tweeting (@CanesCountry) and commenting in the game thread on what he sees live from the pressbox tonight. 

After the jump, more on the match-ups, and some new faces on the rosters since these two teams met just a couple weeks ago.

Line-ups and personnel


The Nashville Predators had a few significant injuries when they were here in Raleigh, but only one of those players is returning tongiht. While he missed the game at the RBC Center, Ryan Suter, a teammate of Tim Gleason's when they won silver for Team USA in Vancouver, returns to stand guard on the back end. However, David Legwand, the 2nd overall pick in the 1998 draft, has yet to return with a lower body injury. Finally, Matthew Lombardi has not played since suffering an apparent concussion in the second game of the season.

Here are the Pred's lines and pairings per Pred's SBN blog On the Forecheck

Sullivan (A) - O'Reilly - Wilson
Tootoo - Smithson - Ward
Kostitsyn - Goc - Erat
Dumont - Spaling - Hornqvist
 Suter (A) - Weber (C)
Klein - Bouillon
Franson - O'Brien


The most significant change to the Pred's lineup is the injury announced yesterday to Pekka Rinne, their standout Finnish goal tender who injured a knee in the shoot-out win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Wednesday night, putting him out for 2-4 weeks. In his place, 6'-6" Swedish rookie, 22-year-old Anders Lindback will man the pipes. Another rookie, Mark Dekanich, has been recalled from the AHL club in Milwaukee take his place by the gate.

Here are your goalie stats coming into the game:

2010 - Anders Lindback 8 388 3 1 18 2.78 206 188 .913 0


2010 - Cam Ward             21 1217 11 8 53 2.61 681 628 .922 1

For the Hurricanes in the last two weeks, their fourth line has been made over, with the addition of Troy Bodie and Ryan Carter from the Anaheim Ducks. Back on November  20th, Patrick O`Sullivan was on the fourth line centered by Jon Matsumoto (who went a dismal 0-for-6 on the dot that night, his last game before before returning to Charlotte) and Jiri Tlusty. For a game we expect to be about about battling and grinding, this should be considered a vast improvement. Specifically, the trio of players making up the fourth line now averages 2" in height and 20 pounds in girth more per player than it did then. Add in Ryan Carter's 56% win rate on faceoffs and Paul Maurice has got a lot more to work with tonight then he did for the last outing.

Love 'em or hate 'em, here are those well-established lines and pairings for the Hurricanes:

Samsonov - Staal - LaRose 
Skinner - Ruutu - Cole
Dwyer - Sutter - Jokinen
Bodie - Carter- Tlusty


Gleason - Corvo
Pitkanen - White
Harrison - McBain



History lesson


In the last six regular season trips to Nashville, the Canes have lost five times, the last win coming December 3, 2002. Eight years ago (almost to the day) Arturs Irbe was the winning goalie, with goals by Rod Brind`Amour (from Ron Francis and Sami Kapanen) , and  Erik Cole potting the game-winner with the assist from David Tanabe. How's about that? 


Other side of the story


For the view from the other room, the most excellent blog On the Forecheck can answer many of your questions. Personally, I always enjoy when another blogger doesn't expect much of a challenge from the Hurricanes. That worked out really well for the good guys in Boston last weekend. For tonight, we read this challenge:

I would stop short of calling the Hurricanes a cupcake on the schedule, but I will say that its important Nashville pick up points in games that they have no excuse not to win. 

Nashville has won two straight and is looking to extend their streak tonight, as they sit 2 points below the playoff cut line, with a record of 11-8-5. The most intriguing streak for the Predators is their tremendous success on the penalty kill of late. From their preview:

With a perfect four-for-four performance on Wednesday at Columbus, the Predators penalty kill set a franchise record for most consecutive games without allowing a man-advantage goal at eight, dating back to Nov. 18 at Montreal. In that span, the PK has extinguished 28 straight opposition power plays, the third most consecutive kills in franchise history....

Both Carolina and Nashville are disciplined teams and are ranked  2nd and 3rd, behind Florida Panthers, for least PIM/game, with 10.2 and 10.6 per game on average.


The game will be broadcast in HDTV by Fox Sports Carolinas and or listen to Chuck Kaiton's call at 99.9 ESPN the Fan. The puck drops at 8pm, so you can look for the game thread at 7:30. Hope to see you then!