Preview: Stars at Predators (3/23)

Location: Bridgestone Arena

Game Time: 7:00 pm Central

TV: FSN

Radio: 104.5 The Zone (WGFX-FM)

Records:
Nashville: 42-26-5 (89)
Dallas: 31-27-14 (76)

Season Series:
10/3/09 – NSH 3 – DAL 2 (SO)
10/14/09 – NSH 0 – DAL 6
12/29/09 – DAL 2 – NSH 4

Red Hot Richards: The last time Brad Richards had a season like this one, the Lightning were the defending Stanley Cup champions. Traded from Tampa Bay at the trading deadline in 2008, Richards has not been able to replicate his point-per-game output of 2005-06…until this year, that is. The 2004 Conn Smythe winner has picked up his game considerably, registering 80 points through 70 games. And he’s still on fire, picking up 21 points in the 17 games since February 1, including 8 in his last 5. He has 5 points in his 3 games against Nashville this season.

Papa Don’t Preach: Mike Modano, long the bane of the Predators’ existence, will not appear on Tuesday night and may not appear again this season after having an appendectomy last Tuesday. Prior to his surgery, Modano was beginning to play to his age. After missing almost all of October, Modano registered just 26 points this season, the lowest output of his 21-year career. Modano, the all-time leading American goal scorer, last put one in the net on February 2nd and was watching his ice time dwindle. There is a decent possibility that the league may have seen the last of Mike Modano, a rare player who has spent his entire career with the same team.

Speaking of Stars: As predicted on Section303.com, Pekka Rinne was named First Star of the Week last week, one week after being named Third Star of the week and two weeks after losing the starting job to Dan Ellis. No, really. Pekka lost the starting job to Dan Ellis two weeks ago. After Ellis was pulled in the infamous San Jose game, it’s been all Pekka, all the time. Pekka capped off an incredible week with what may have been his most impressive game. Yes, he let in a couple of goals and, yes, he had a couple of shutouts earlier in the week, but this one was a testament to Pekka’s endurance. Sunday’s game was played 19 hours after Saturday’s game. He still managed to turn away 23 of 25 shots to earn his sixth straight victory. During his win streak, Pekka has only let in 7 goals. That’s right…Pekka – and, in turn, the team – has given up 7 goals total in the 6 games following the 8-goal debacle.

All-Time Series: Traditionally, the Stars have had the Predators’ number. In 43 matchups, the Predators have only managed to win 17 times. In fact, unlike many of the series where the Predators have gained significant ground since the lockout, the Stars still have managed to beat the Preds 10 times in the last 19 showdowns. Luckily for Nashville, however, the majority of Dallas’ edge in this series stems from the fact that the Preds have only won in Dallas 5 times since the franchise’s inception. On the other hand, the Predators hold a 12-8-1 record at home against the Stars.

Quest for 50: Martin Erat is quickly making the Preds’ lack of a 50-point scorer a non-issue, picking up the first assist on Dustin Boyd’s game-winner on Sunday. Erat now has 48 points on the year and just needs to score 2 more to hit the barrier. In addition, Patric Hornqvist’s  third period goal boosted his season point total to 45.

Legwand-O-Meter Still Ticking: David Legwand has not scored a goal in 31 games. Per the Section303.com Legwand-O-Meter, that will be almost 80 days by game time.

Magic Number: The Predators’ current magic number to guarantee a playoff spot is 13 points. In other words, if the Predators pick up 13 points over the final 9 games of the season, there is no way that they can drop beyond 8th place.

Quick Notes: In his first game in over 2 weeks, Cal O’Reilly picked up an assist on Hornqvist’s goal on Sunday…Dustin Boyd’s 2 goals on Sunday were his first as a Predator and his first since January 30, a span of 15 games…The 42 wins by the Predators are the 3rd most in Franchise history, eclipsed only by 2005-06 (49) and 2006-07 (51)…Rumor has it that the Preds have recalled Nick Spaling from the Milwaukee Admirals due to Jason Arnott and Joel Ward’s injuries…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.