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Morning Skate: Game 21 at Minnesota

The Morning After:
Yesterday’s results:
Oilers 6, Predators 2

Smashville 24/7 3 stars of the night:
1. Jordan Eberle, EDM (2 goals, 1 assist)
2. Ales Hemsky, EDM (1 goal, 1 assist)
3. Ryan Smyth, EDM (2 assists)

Recaps around the blogosphere:

Preds On The Glass Inside Smashville Section 303
The View from 111 Hockey Night in Nashville On The Forecheck

Game 21/82:
7:00 CT – Nashville Predators (10-6-4) @ Minnesota Wild (12-5-3)

Players to watch:
NSH- Craig Smith
The standout rookie only had one point on the five-game home stand, but has the bulk of his production has come on the road this year (11 points in 10 games).
MIN- Dany Heatley
Heatley has not scored in six games, which means he’s due. He has had Nashville’s number in his career, tallying 17 points in 13 games.

Starting goaltenders:
NSH- Pekka Rinne (2011-12 stats: 10-5-4, 2.35 GAA)
MIN- Niklas Backstrom (2011-12 stats: 10-4-4, 2.22 GAA)

Injury report:
NSH- Teemu Laakso (back, out)
MIN- Marco Scandella (concussion, questionable), Marek Zidlicky and Guillaume Latendresse (concussion, out), Greg Zanon (groin, out), Mike Lundin (back, out)

Keys to the game:
NSH- Play defensively responsible… Over the last two games, the Preds have surrendered 10 goals. They have to shore up the mistakes on the back end and be 10 times more responsible. Minnesota statistically has the best defense in the NHL, so there is not much room for error for the Preds’ blue line.
MIN- Strong special teams… Nashville’s penalty kill has been a bit vulnerable in the last couple games, while the power play is regressing. If the Wild win the special teams battle, they could potentially ride their strong even strength play to victory.

Numbers to know:
- The Preds are 6-3-1 on the road this season … Minnesota is 7-2-1 at home.
- The Preds won last year’s season series against the Wild, taking three of four games.
- All-time, the Preds are 6-9-5 in Minnesota.
- The Preds were 6-6-1 on the back half of back-to-back’s last year and are 2-0-0 this season; they lost last night against Edmonton.
- Pekka Rinne is 6-2-1 with a 2.05 GAA and .919 save percentage in 10 career games vs. the Wild. His likely counterpart, Niklas Backstrom, is 7-4-2 with a 3.03 GAA and .903 save percentage in 11 career games vs. Nashville.
- Martin Erat has 24 points in 29 career games vs. Minnesota.
- Nick Spaling has four goals in four games vs. Minnesota.

*Follow us on Twitter – @Smashville247
*Don’t forget about our podcast at 10 AM CT on Thursday!

 
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