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Preview: Predators at Coyotes (4/7)

Location: Arena

Game Time: 9:00 pm Central


Radio: 104.5 The Zone (WGFX-FM)

Nashville: 46-28-6 (98)
Phoenix: 48-25-6 (102)

Season Series:
1/21/10 – NSH 2 – PHX 4
2/2/10 – PHX 1 – NSH 0 (SO)
3/25/10 – PHX 3 – NSH 4 (SO)

Return to the Playoffs: Phoenix has clinched its first playoff spot since the 2001-02 season. In addition, this season is the first 100-point NHL season in franchise history. They did have 2 100-point seasons in the 70’s in the WHA while known as the Winnipeg Jets.

Still Road Warriors: With Saturday’s win against Detroit, the Predators tied their franchise record with 23 road wins on the season. A win on Wednesday would not only set an outright franchise record, it would mean that the Preds would end the season tied for the most road wins. The Sharks and Capitals have one more road win, but neither team has any road games left. The Predators head into Wednesday night looking for their sixth straight road victory. They haven’t lost a road game since the Sharks shellacking. For a team that has never won a road playoff game, the success on the road this season definitely bodes well.

The Team that Scores First: The Predators and the Coyotes have equal, league-leading 23-1-0 records when leading after one period. Phoenix holds the league’s best record (36-3-3) when scoring first, while Nashville holds the second best (27-5-1). Phoenix is 32-1-2 when leading after 2 while Nashville is 27-4-0. On the flipside, the Predators also hold the league’s best record when trailing after one period (10-9-2), while the Coyotes are all the way down in 20th (6-16-3). Don’t expect any miracles if the Predators are trailing after 2, though…they hold a 2-17-1 record.

Quest for 100: With a win on either Wednesday or Saturday, the Predators will eclipse the 100 point mark on the season for only the third time in franchise history. The last time was 2006-07, when the team registered 110 points on the year.

Playoff Preparation: The Predators are tied for the league lead with 7 wins in their last 10 games. Looking at prior playoff seasons, the Predators entered the playoffs relatively cold. This season, they will be entering with their best pre-playoff finish in franchise history. In 2003-04, the Predators finished their last 12 games 5-5-2. In 2005-06, they finished 7-5-0. In 2006-07, it was 5-5-2. Finally, in 2007-08, they finished 6-5-1. As it stands, the worst record the Predators could finish with over their final 12 games would be 7-4-1, which would mark the best 12 game finish in a playoff season. Most importantly, the Predators have not last back-to-back games since March 7.

Quest for 50: Unless JP Dumont or Jason Arnott (both at 44 points) cap off their seasons with career best finishes, Martin Erat is the only remaining Predator with a chance at a 50-point season. Patric Hornqvist (51) and Steve Sullivan (50) have already reached the mark. Erat just needs 1 point in the final 2 games.

Career Years: Patric Hornqvist is the player with the most notable career year this season. After a rookie campaign that saw him net 2 goals and 5 assists and finish with a -3, Hornqvist shot out of nowhere to have 30 goals, 21 assists and a +18…Steve Sullivan missed two years of hockey and many thought he would never play again, which makes this season all the more remarkable. For only the fourth time in his career, Sully has played 80 games in a single season. Barring catastrophe, this could be only the second time he plays a full 82 game schedule…With 34 points, Joel Ward has very quietly scored at a higher output than he did last season when he scored 35, but played in 10 more games…Marcel Goc, perhaps the biggest non-Hornqvist surprise of the season, was brought in to fill the role vacated by Vern Fiddler/Scott Nichol. Besides putting up double-digit goals (12) and assists (18) for the first time in his career, he broke the 30-point barrier for the first time…With 31 wins, Pekka Rinne has had his first career 30-win season. In addition, his 7 shutouts tie his own franchise record that he set last season.

Quick Notes: Jason Arnott reportedly made the trip to Phoenix and will most likely be in the lineup on Wednesday. No word on what this means for Nick Spaling…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.

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