||7 MT / 9 ET / 2 GMT
|29-18-3||January 22nd, 2010
|61 pts||Pepsi Center
6th in West
3rd in West
Don't adjust your television sets. What you are seeing is real. The Predators and Avalanche hook up tonight in a Game That Matters™. Really. Nashville lost last night and sits just 3 points in front of the 8th-placed Red Wings (Calgary dropped to 9th last night with their 5th consecutive loss). More importantly, the Avs need at least a point to stay ahead of Vancouver in the all-important Northwest Division race.
Despite the obvious implications in the standings, the Avalanche need a win tonight to stay alive in that potentially vital 3rd tiebreaker (head-to-head points) with Nashville. Nashville has won both previous games against the Avs this year - once in regulation and once in OT. A win by the Preds would guarantee them the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Avalanche if the two teams are tied at the end of the year. It could well be important, with 11 teams separated by just 11 points in the West (all stats in this article are from before the Thursday night games).
The Avalanche are a wee-bit banged up at the moment. How banged up? The following Avalanche players have scored a goal against the Predators this year: Ryan Wilson, Milan Hejduk, Marek Svatos (2) and Kyle Quincey. Wilson and Hejduk are out and Svatos is, well, Slovakian for "groin pull". Someone might want to get Quincey into a walking cast, just as a precaution. The Predators are going to be without the services of Jarred Smithson and, thankfully, Jordin Tootoo. [Update: Wonderful news. Both players are back and played last night. Chickenshit will be in the lineup]
Despite the injuries, the Avs haven't played since Monday and should have fresher legs than the Preds, who played last night in Phoenix. That may be their biggest edge, as these teams are pretty similar on paper. The Avalanche are slightly better in the key statistical categories (including, amazingly, special teams). But the Preds aren't that far behind. One thing Nashville does very well is to spread around the scoring. Leading scorer JP Dumont (again, going into Thursday's game) has just 32 points, which would put him 4th on the Avs behind Stastny, Wolski, Stewart and Matt Freaking Duchene. But, Nashville has 9 forwards with 20+ points. I guess this is all just a fancy way of saying that this should be a good game.
Craig Anderson will be the starter tonight (surprise!).
|Dumont||32 pts||Top Scorer||Stastny||45 pts|
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