Dallas Stars @ Predators (Game 20): Preview

The Nashville Predators look to snap their losing streak Monday night at home against the Dallas Stars. The Predators have a record of 8-6-5 and ranked 6th in the Western Conference with 21 points. The Stars have a record of 9-8-1 and ranked 9th in the Western Conference with 19 points. 

Nashville needs to win this game, or could find themselves on the outside looking in once the night is over. The number one goal is not just to win, but score a goal.

TV/Radio Coverage

Nashville: 102.5 The Game

Dallas: 1310 AM

TV: NBCSN

Season Series

This will be the first meeting between these teams.

Line Up News

Starting Goaltenders:

Name W L OT GAA SV%
#35 Pekka Rinne 7 5 4 1.77 .931
#41 Cristopher Nilstorp 1 3 0 2.60 .913

Projected Nashville Scratches: #23 W Brian McGrattan (conditioning assignment), #28 C Paul Gaustad (questionable; lower body) and #75 D Hal Gill (upper body)

Projected Dallas Scratches: # D Carl Sneep, #23 C Tom Wandell and #25 W Matt Fraser; #6 D Trevor Daley (IR; upper body), #13 C Ray Whitney (IR; foot), #27 D Aaron Rome (IR; lower body) and #32 G Kari Lehtonen (IR; groin)

Projected Lines

Nashville

#74 Sergei Kostitsyn #12 Mike Fisher #10 Martin Erat
#57 Gabriel Bourque #11 David Legwand #27 Patric Hornqvist
#33 Colin Wilson #15 Craig Smith #24 Matt Halischuk
#16 Richard Clune #13 Nick Spaling #18 Brandon Yip
#6 Shea Weber #59 Roman Josi
#22 Scott Hannan #8 Kevin Klein
#7 Jonathon Blum #4 Ryan Ellis
#35 Pekka Rinne
#30 Chris Mason

Dallas

#10 Brendan Morrow #14 Jamie Benn #68 Jaromir Jagr
#18 Reilly Smith #9 Derek Roy #21 Loui Eriksson
#60 Antoine Roussel #20 Cody Eakin #73 Michael Ryder
#24 Eric Nystrom #38 Vernon Fiddler #40 Ryan Garbutt
#3 Stephane Robidas #4 Brendan Dillon
#36 Philip Larsen #33 Alex Goligoski
#58 Jordie Benn #43 Jamie Oleksiak
#41 Cristopher Nilstorp
#31 Richard Bachman

Thoughts on Both Teams

Predators: Nashville looks to get back on the winning track back at Bridgestone Arena Monday. The Predators have lost four of their last five games, which is unacceptable in a shortened season.

Scoring has been at a premium once again as of late. In the last 120:00 of play, the Preds have not scored a goal. Obviously there is a trend of inconsistency throughout the lineup, but that is something head coach Barry Trotz will have to get around.

Expect Trotz to return to the "normal" lines, as seen above. The coaching staff will have to press the reset button and see what happens throughout the game. There isn't a rule against changing up the lines in the middle of game. Be ready for anything with the lineups.

Trotz will not be able to go with seven defensemen because Hal Gill was reinjured Saturday night in Detroit. Gill has an upper body injury and is expected to be out. Face-off master Paul Gaustad could be back in the lineup after being out with a lower body injury suffered last Monday in Colorado. The Preds have Gaustad listed as "questionable."

The three keys to winning are 1) Score the first goal; 2) Support Rinne; and 3) Quality over quantity (shots).

Stars: Monday night is the first game of the back-to-back for the Dallas Stars. After the game in the Music City, the Stars have to be ready to play in less than 24 hours against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Dallas has forward depth that catch will many defenses off guard in the league. Head coach Glen Gulutzan has spread out the offense into the top three lines, while having a gritty fourth line including former Predator Vernon Fiddler. 

The addition of Reilly Smith out of Miami University has firmed up the scoring threat by allowing Gulutzan to move the team's third ranked scorer Michael Ryder to the third line. Also adding the ageless wonder–no not Teemu Selanne–Jaromir Jagr to the lineup has added a threat to keep teams' eyes on when he hits the ice.

Once Ray Whitney returns to the lineup after recovering from an injury, they could be a dangerous team in the regular season and certainly in the playoffs, if the Stars can get in.

However, the current problem with Dallas is their defense. Two defensemen, who are often in the lineup, are out with injuries and left the defense without much strength. Not to mention the injury of starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who is the anchor to this team.

Monday night's game could become a scoring contest, which is exactly what the Stars want when facing the Predators.

Dallas Stars' Players to Watch:

Name GP G A
#68 Jaromir Jagr 17 5 8
#14 Jamie Benn 13 6 7
#73 Michael Ryder 18 6 5

Who scores the first goal of the game for Predators? Win a Preds player t-shirt! Info here on how to win.

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