Tuesday, February 03, 2004

GameDay: @ Nashville (26-18-6-2,60) 8:00 EST

Tonight is the fifth of six games between these two Central Division teams this season. The Predators won the first three with scores of 5-3, 4-3 and 1-0 but the Wings came back in game four with a 6-0 blowout at the Joe on January 5th. The Wings are 2-2-3 in their last seven games and 1-0-2 in their past three. Their most recent win came last week, a 5-2 decision with the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. On Saturday night, they scored three goals in the third period on the way to a 4-4 tie with the lowly Carolina Hurricanes. They are going through their usual mid-season slump, something that usually doesn't go much further than the All Star Break, which is this weekend. The Predators will look to set a franchise-record unbeaten streak at the Gaylord Entertainment Center tonight. They are 9-0-2 in their previous eleven games at home since losing 2-1 in overtime to the Canucks on December 16. They are now tied with a previous franchise-record of 11 games unbeaten at home which was set between November 3 and December 23 of the 2001-2002 season. They are coming off a 3-2 overtime win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Defenseman Marek Zidlicky scored with 16 seconds left to win it for his team. Based on what Dave Lewis said on Sunday, I expect Manny Legace to start tonight. By the way, Ken Holland denies the TSN report which said he'd told Joseph the #1 spot was his to lose. Derian Hatcher participated in practice yesterday and did many of the drills. He made the trip with the team. The Predators have shocked the Wings before and they'll need to be sure it doesn't happen again. If they play anything like the game they played on Saturday, they'll have a tough time coming back because Tomas Vokoun is a better goalie than Kevin Weekes and the Preds a better team than the 'Canes. If they play like they did when they shut out Nashville on Jan. 5th, they should have very little problem winning. But they have to come out playing hard to begin with and not wait until the end to do so. This is an important game because it determines the roll they will be on going into Denver on Thursday. They will have to take advantage of the Predators' tendency towards penalties and play well on the power play. Hopefully guys like Nick Lidstrom will shoot more when given the chance instead of always looking for a perfect pass. That, apparently, is Nick's plan, anyway. News Freep ESPN


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