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Preview: Predators at Panthers (3/29)

Location: BankAtlantic Center (Sunrise, Florida)

Game Time: 6:30 pm Central

TV: None

Radio: 104.5 The Zone (WGFX-FM)

Records:
Nashville: 43-27-6 (92)
Florida: 30-33-11 (71)

Season Series:
11/28/09 – FLA 1 – NSH 4

Kooooooooooun: Tomas Vokoun may be the best goalie in the NHL. To Predator fans, this probably comes as absolutely no shock. Ignore his win-loss record completely – Vokoun is playing for a team that gives him virtually no goal support, as Florida has the fourth fewest goals in the NHL. This season, Vokoun has a career-best .927 save percentage, a career-best 7 shutouts and a 2.45 GAA that is simply remarkable considering how bad the Panthers are. Monday will most likely mark his third appearance against his former team…he currently has a 1-1 record with a 27 save shutout in his last appearance on December 23, 2008. Despite Vokoun’s remarkable numbers, he comes into Monday night with 5 straight losses and only 4 wins since February 1.

What Playoffs? The Panthers somewhat shocked the hockey world in 1996, making the Stanley Cup final in only their third season before getting swept in four games by the Avalanche. They have only made the playoffs twice since then, the last being in 2000…and they have not won a playoff game since 1997. While not mathematically eliminated from a playoff spot yet this season, they pretty much have a zero percent chance of getting in again, which marks their 10th straight season without a playoff appearance – the longest current drought in the NHL.

On the Road Again: A win on Monday would tie the Predators for the league lead in road wins at 22. With 3 road games left, the Predators have a decent chance of tying the franchise record of 23 road wins.

Southeast Dominance: The Predators lead all Western Conference teams by picking up 11 points against Southeast Division teams this season. In addition, the Preds have picked up 24 points through 17 games against Eastern Conference opponents this season and have earned points in all but two road appearances.

Quest for 50: Since no Predator scored on Saturday night, the Predators are still without a 50-point scorer. Martin Erat leads the team with 48 while Steve Sullivan and Patric Hornqvist are right behind him with 47. The Predators have never made the playoffs without a 50-point scorer.

Legwand-O-Meter Still Ticking: David Legwand has not scored a goal in 34 games. Per the section303.com Legwand-O-Meter, that will be almost 86 days by game time.

Magic Number: With Calgary’s loss to the Bruins, combined with the Preds’ point against the Red Wings, the magic number to guarantee a playoff spot dropped to 6 points. In other words, if the Predators pick up 6 points over the final 6 games of the season, there is no way that they can drop beyond 8th place.

Quick Notes: On Saturday, Pekka Rinne tied his own franchise record with his 7th shutout of the season. It was his 4th shutout in 15 days…Over their last 10 games, the Predators are 7-2-1…Joel Ward is reportedly out until Thursday and Jason Arnott’s condition is day-to-day, which means that Cal O’Reilly and Nick Spaling will most likely play again on Monday…OnTheForecheck.com and The Tennessean are reporting that Dan Ellis will be making his first start since getting shelled for 6 goals against San Jose on March 11…For real-time tweets during the game, be sure to follow us at @cellblock303 and, to join in on the conversation, be sure to tweet along with us by following @PredFans.

UPDATE: Per John Glennon’s blog, Martin Erat did not make the trip, but Joel Ward did. There is a chance that Wade Belak may see action for the first time since February 12.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Paul Nicholson