UPDATE (1:15 PM): Preds want more shots, less penalties
Perhaps the most surprising part of the Predators’ recent success is the lack of shots and scoring chances they’ve been generating. Heading into tonight’s contest against Los Angeles, the Predators ranked 30th in the NHL with 21.8 shots per game.
Though they have been opportunistic when given quality chances, particularly Tuesday in St. Louis, the Predators would like to get more pucks on the net starting tonight.
“The easy answer is to just start shooting more, but it relates to our whole game,” Mike Fisher said this morning. “There are lots of areas we can improve on, but we have to make a conscious effort. Sometimes I think we’re a little too cute. We have to start throwing everything at the net and crash. We have to outnumber teams at the net and get rebounds.”
Barry Trotz, however, said getting more shots on net is not a point of emphasis right now for his team.
“There are important parts of the game you need to execute,” he said. “I’m not concerned about the shots; I’m more concerned about what we give up. … They don’t count the shots, they count the scoreboard. It’s not a concern as long as you’re winning hockey games.”
Most of the chances the chances they are giving up are on the penalty kill. The Predators have been shorthanded 16 times in the last three games, and that’s where they have allowed the only three goals in those contests. Taking fewer penalties is something else the Predators would like to do, too.
“Especially against teams like Los Angeles that can move the puck around, we don’t want to give them too many opportunities,” Fisher said. “There is still some room for improvement on the penalty kill, and taking less [penalties] helps.”
Nashville is currently 16th on the penalty kill, and tonight they’ll be facing a Kings team that has scored five power play goals in its last four games.
7:00 PM CT – Los Angeles Kings (3-3-2) @ Nashville Predators (4-2-3)
TV: FS Tennessee
Radio: 102.5 The Game
Last time out:
LA- The Kings captured their third win in four games by edging Columbus 4-2 on Tuesday night. Down 1-0 after 20 minutes, the Kings scored three second-period goals to catapult them to victory. It was the second game of their five-game Grammy’s road trip.
NSH- In their third meeting of the season, the Predators finally knocked down the door to beat St. Louis. Martin Erat and Colin Wilson each tallied three points in the 6-1 win, while 17 players on the roster ended the night on the right side of the plus/minus, a sign of the team’s complete effort.
Players to watch:
LA- Mike Richards
Despite underachieving in 82 career games with L.A., Richards is always a dangerous threat. He scored his first goal of the season in Tuesday’s win.
NSH- Martin Erat
Erat leads the Predators in points (7) and had three points in his return to the lineup Tuesday in St. Louis.
Projected starting goaltenders:
LA- Jonathan Quick (2012-13 stats: 3-2-2, 2.62 GAA)
NSH- Pekka Rinne (2012-13 stats: 3-2-3, 2.02 GAA)
Projected lineups from last game/practice:
|Sergei Kostitsyn||Mike Fisher||Martin Erat|
|Gabriel Bourque||David Legwand||Colin Wilson|
|Craig Smith||Nick Spaling||Brandon Yip|
|Richard Clune||Paul Gaustad||Matt Halischuk|
|Scott Hannan||Shea Weber||Pekka Rinne|
|Roman Josi||Kevin Klein||Chris Mason|
|Hal Gill||Ryan Ellis|
|Los Angeles Kings|
|Dustin Brown||Anze Kopitar||Justin Williams|
|Simon Gagne||Mike Richards||Jeff Carter|
|Dwight King||Jarret Stoll||Trevor Lewis|
|Kyle Clifford||Colin Fraser||Jordan Nolan|
|Dustin Penner||Brad Richardson|
|Rob Scuderi||Drew Doughty||Jonathan Quick|
|Alec Martinez||Slava Voynov||Jonathan Bernier|
|Davis Drewiskie||Jake Muzzin|
*Lineups are subject to change
LA- Willie Mitchell (knee, out), Matt Greene (back, out)
NSH- Patric Hornqvist (knee, out)
Keys to the game:
LA- Quality special teams… How many even strength goals have the Predators surrendered in the last three games? Zero. Now, that obviously won’t keep up but it shows just how tough Barry Trotz’s club has been at 5-on-5 of late. With that under consideration, it would serve the Kings well to be on their A-game when it comes to special teams. If not, beating the Preds at even strength will be difficult to do.
NSH- Feed off home-ice… Tonight will be the Predators’ first home game in 16 days, since Jan. 21. After being on the road for two weeks and seven games, tonight may not feel like a home game for the Preds. Teams also have a tendency to have a letdown in the first game back from a long, successful road trip. So the Preds will need to feed off the crowd early and carry over the momentum from Tuesday’s win.
Numbers to know:
- Season series vs. Los Angeles: 1-0 Predators
- 2011-12 season series: 3-1 Kings
- The Preds are 0-0-2 at home this season … Los Angeles is 2-2-1 on the road.
- All-time, the Preds are 9-14-3 at home vs. Los Angeles. The Kings have come away victorious in 4 of their last 5 trips to Nashville.
- Pekka Rinne is 6-5-0 with a 2.91 GAA and .891 save percentage in 11 career games vs. Los Angeles. His counterpart, Jonathan Quick, is 1-4-2 with a 2.83 GAA and .891 save percentage in 7 career games vs. Nashville.
- Martin Erat has 27 points in 36 career games vs. Los Angeles.
- Sergei Kostitsyn has 8 points in 10 career games vs. Los Angeles.
- Power play: Nashville (17.2%, 17th) … Los Angeles (12.5%, 25th)
- Penalty kill: Nashville (80.0%, 16th) … Los Angeles (81.1%, 15th)
On Mar. 16, 2009, with playoff implications on the line, the Predators pulled out a big 4-3 win in Los Angeles. Ryan Jones potted the winner with 2:18 left in regulation…