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Preds in Calgary: Time to avenge an ugly loss…

It was November 30. The Nashville Predators had spent the entire month righting a ship that had them outscored 28-38 in October. On this night, Barry Trotz’s club brought a 9-3-0 November record into Sommet Center.

But, with all of Canada watching, instead of showing the hockey world that hockey is alive, well and thriving in Music City, the Preds fell flat on their faces, losing 5-0.

Despite that flop, the Predators have continued their hot play. They’re 6-1-2 since the Flames came into Nashville and smoked them out of their only building.

Well now it’s their turn.

At 3:00pm Central, the puck will drop in Alberta, giving Nashville a chance to show all of Canada (finally) what the rest of the league already knows: the Predators are for real.

The consensus scouting report on Nashville around the quarter mark of the season was that, despite a strong defensive corps, they had zero scoring. They were lucky to get on the scoreboard twice in one game and, if they did find the back of the net twice, they’d need a near perfect performance from their defensemen and their goalie.

Even though they were on fire the entire month leading up to the November 30th game, the Canadian media refused to give any respect to the Predators. So there they were. The rash of injuries were over, the lines were pretty much set so chemistry was developing and the starting goaltender turbulence had finally been calmed. The Predators were finally ready to show everyone what they were really made of.

And then they took the ice and just helped along the stereotype that teams in the south can’t compete with teams in the north.

Luckily for Nashville, it was a hiccup instead of a meltdown. They’ve only lost one game in regulation since then and have continued their strong play.

For the first time all season, the proverbial top line of Jason Arnott, Steve Sullivan and JP Dumont are on top of the team scoring list. Sullivan is not only tied for the team lead in scoring with 23 points, but he has 11 points in his last nine games. Arnott is a point-per-game player over the same stretch and Dumont (who’s been demoted to the second line since Martin Erat revived his career) has only six points in those nine games but still manages to co-lead the team in scoring despite missing seven games with injury.

But the success doesn’t stop there. Much-maligned center David Legwand has 22 points this season, good for second on the team. Since his son Ryder was born on November 21, Leggy has posted 14 points in 15 games, including two seperate scoring streaks of four games or more.

Oh, and that guy named Erat? After posting a single point in the entire month of October and only a slight improvement of eight points in November, the veteran Czech winger has posted 10 points in just seven December games, including – wait for it – a point in every game he’s played in this month except for one.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne has a little streak of his own since the Calgary game. In the seven games he’s appeared in since he took the loss November 30, Rinne has yet to be charged with a loss in regulation, going 3-0-2.

For sake of time, let’s snapshot some other highlights: Patric Hornqvist not only has a three-game goal scoring streak but has also posted six points in those three games. Jerred Smithson is one goal shy of his career high (seven in 07-08). Joel Ward, the surprise of the 08-09 season when he came in an unknown and left with 35 points, basically has half that (16 points) already. The chief tenant of Trotz’s dog house Ryan Jones has blown up as well. He’s currently on a four game goal scoring streak, making a strong case to stay in Nashville.

Heck, even Wade Belak has two – count ’em 2 – points in his last four.

So here we are once again. All of Canada is watching. Can Nashville finally garner some respect?

Nashville is two points out of a tie for the Central Division and Western Conference lead and two places in the standings below Calgary, currently in third place in the West because they lead their division. What better way to announce that you’re legit to the harsh, anti-non-traditional hockey market Canadian media, than to beat the Flames, hurdle them in the standings, and exact a measure of revenge all in the same 60 minutes.

And hey, doing it in Calgary would just be gravy.