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Mark Dekanich vs. Anders Lindback: Let the war begin…

Prospects Jeremy Smith and Chet Pickard have been sent to the AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals and Pekka Rinne will not suit up for tonight’s pre-season game in Atlanta.

Let the goalie war begin.

Mark Dekanich and Anders Lindback will be the two netminders guarding the crease tonight for the Nashville Predators. Dekanich, the starter for most of last season in Milwaukee, will hope to play the second part of the game while Lindback gets the nod to start. Both players are the last surviving goaltenders from the most recent training camp roster cuts. And both were considered front runners for the back-up gig when camp started.

Lindback, a monster in net at 6’6″, is solid in almost every way but, as we saw in both development camp this summer and training camp, his high glove needs serious work. But, in game play (where it counts), the big Swede has stopped 29 of the 30 shots he’s faced. That’s one goal allowed in two games. Pretty impressive for a guy who is in his first tour of North American hockey.

Dekanich has played well also, but trails Lindback statistically by a hair. The North Vancouver native has stopped 12 of 14 shots in his two pre-season appearances. The goal he allowed in the pre-season opener against the Carolina Hurricanes was just a bad bounce as he made a tough save but then allowed a rebound. Veteran winger Segrei Samsonov made no mistake and banged it home the eventual game-winner.

The two goalies have split time in a single game this pre-season. Back on September 24 in Carolina, Lindback stopped all 15 shots he faced while Dekanich saw seven pucks, stopping six of them. Head Coach Barry Trotz told The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper that he would give the slight edge to Lindback, at this point, due to exposure. Seeing 30 pucks is more than double what Dekanich has seen in 14. Because of that, the coaching staff, obviously, has a better idea of what they’re getting out of Lindback.

So, when the puck drops at 6:00pm Central tonight, the war will officially have started. The fight to be Rinne’s back-up was thought to be most interesting story line in Preds camp this year.

And so it is.