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Morning Skate: Game 15 vs. Anaheim

UPDATE (12:30 PM): Preds going back to seven defensemen?

After playing in the first 12 games of the season, Predators defenseman Hal Gill has had to sit and watch the last two games as a healthy scratch.

“You never like to sit back and watch your team play. But if you’re going to do that, it’s nice to see them win,” he said.

Despite the Predators picking up shutout wins in each of the last two games, head coach Barry Trotz hinted this morning that his lineup will go back to featuring seven defensemen tonight against the Anaheim Ducks.

“That is a possibility, yes,” Trotz said.

“I’m going to be ready in case I am [back in the lineup],” Gill said.

The benefit of having seven defensemen in the lineup is using different personnel in different situations. Gill can help out the penalty kill, whereas Jonathon Blum can do the same on the power play, and everyone not named Shea Weber can share ice time on the back end.

Having seven defensemen in the lineup may be necessary tonight against a team like Anaheim that has nine different players with four or more goals this season, not one of them being former Rocket Richard Trophy winner Corey Perry.

“They have a lot of weapons and have a pretty good lineup and they’re ticking, so we have to be ready for that. Whatever we can bring to the table, we have to bring it,” said Gill.

The Predators have used seven defensemen in five games this season, and they boast a 3-1-1 record in those games. That said, Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said it doesn’t change anything.

“It has no effect on matchups,” he said. “I know Weber is going to be out there for 31 minutes no matter whether they have 12 defensemen in the lineup. It doesn’t really matter with the way we play and the way we match up against them.”

***

7:00 PM CT – Anaheim Ducks (10-2-1) @ Nashville Predators (7-3-4)
TV: SportSouth
Radio: 102.5 The Game

Last time out:
ANA- The Ducks, who beat Chicago on Tuesday in a shootout, improved their road record to an impressive 6-1-1 with a 5-2 win in Detroit last night. Andrew Cogliano and Bobby Ryan scored 48 seconds apart early in the third period to break a 2-2 tie, while rookie netminder Viktor Fasth pushed his record to a perfect 7-0-0.
NSH- For the second straight game, Pekka Rinne and the Predators shut out a Pacific Division foe. This time it was Phoenix, by a score of 3-0 on Thursday night in Nashville. Gabriel Bourque, Nick Spaling and Mike Fisher each scored in the third period to give the Predators their sixth win in the last eight games.

Players to watch:
ANA- Ryan Getzlaf
Getzlaf has collected a point in seven of his last nine games, and has 26 points in 25 career games against the Predators.
NSH- Ryan Ellis
Ellis is seeing more ice time this season and is capitalizing on it. He has an assist in each of the last two games and his six points lead Predators defensemen.

Projected starting goaltenders:
ANA- Viktor Fasth (2012-13 stats: 7-0-0, 1.78 GAA)
NSH- Pekka Rinne (2012-13 stats: 6-3-3, 1.61 GAA)

Projected lineups from last game/practice:

Anaheim Ducks
Offense
Kyle Palmieri Ryan Getzlaf Corey Perry
Bobby Ryan Peter Holland Teemu Selanne
Andrew Cogliano Saku Koivu Daniel Winnik
Patrick Maroon Nick Bonino Matt Beleskey
Brad Staubitz
Defense Goalie
Sheldon Souray Francois Beauchemin Viktor Fasth
Luca Sbisa Toni Lydman Jeff Deslauriers
Bryan Allen Ben Lovejoy Jonas Hiller
Nate Guenin
Nashville Predators
Offense
Colin Wilson David Legwand Martin Erat
Gabriel Bourque Mike Fisher Sergei Kostitsyn
Craig Smith Nick Spaling Brandon Yip
Richard Clune Paul Gaustad Matt Halischuk
Defense Goalie
Scott Hannan Shea Weber Pekka Rinne
Roman Josi Kevin Klein Chris Mason
Jonathon Blum Ryan Ellis
Hal Gill

*Lineups are subject to change

Injury report:
ANA- Jonas Hiller (groin, questionable), Cam Fowler (upper body, out)
NSH- Patric Hornqvist (knee, out)

Keys to the game:
ANA- Make life difficult on Rinne… The two-time Vezina Trophy finalist is on quite a run. Rinne’s shutout streak is up to 137:41 and he has three shutouts in the last four games (not to mention, he has owned the Ducks over the years). To get pucks (or a puck) past Rinne, the Ducks have to create screens and deflections at the net mouth. That’s something the Sharks and Coyotes didn’t do well this week.
NSH- Improve in first 40 minutes… In each of the last two games, the Predators have played some of their better hockey in the third period and later. Against a talented Ducks team on the second half of a back-to-back, the Preds can’t afford to wait until the final frame to get it going. This season the Ducks are 5-0 when scoring first, and it’ll take a 60-minute effort to beat them tonight.

Numbers to know:
- Season series vs. Anaheim: 1-0 Ducks
- 2011-12 season series: 4-0 Predators
- The Preds are 3-1-2 at home this season … Anaheim is 6-1-1 on the road.
- In their last 16 meetings, including the playoffs, the Preds have won 12 times.
- The Ducks are 3-0-0 on the back half of a back-to-back this season; they won in Detroit last night.
- Pekka Rinne is 9-2-3 with a 1.95 GAA and .931 save percentage in 14 career games vs. Anaheim. His counterpart, Viktor Fasth, is 1-0-0 with a 1.85 GAA and .905 save percentage in 1 career game vs. Nashville.
- Shea Weber has 14 points in 23 career games vs. Anaheim.
- Power play: Nashville (16.3%, 21st) … Anaheim (21.4%, 8th)
- Penalty kill: Nashville (85.2%, 7th) … Anaheim (70.0%, 29th)

Remember when?
On Jan. 9, 2007, the Predators and Ducks were the two best teams in the Western Conference. Steve Sullivan scored the overtime winner to give the Predators a 5-4 victory in an exciting, back-and-forth contest…

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