Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 8pm EST Sommet Center
The Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators most recent meeting came the day before Thanksgiving, in Minnesota, when the Wild prevailed with 3-2 win. The game just happened to be the last time the Wild won before hitting their current losing skid of seven games.
The Wild team is coming off a home ice loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, December 26th. Wild team captain Mikko Koivu returned to the line-up after sitting out the last two weeks with a leg injury. Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Cal Clutterbuck provided the lone Wild goals in the 4-2 loss.
The Predators have lost three of the last four games including a 4-1 loss on Monday at home to the Detroit Red Wings. Predators’ defenseman Jonathon Blum scored with just over two minutes remaining in the game to spoil the shutout for Red Wings goalie, Jimmy Howard. The Predators outshot Detroit 32 to 22, but could only find the back of the net once.
Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon will not be on the ice tonight due to a lower-body injury sustained on Monday. The loss of Spurgeon will impact the power play for the Wild as he has been their most effective point man.
Predators star defenseman Shea Weber fell victim to the ever expanding NHL concussion problem on December 23rd against the Dallas Stars. Weber, the leading scorer for the Predators will sit out his second consecutive game with his return date unknown at this point.
Minnesota has struggled at Nashville having been outscored 14-1 in the last three games at Sommet Center. Goaltending for the Wild must tighten up to go along with a much needed boost on offensive if they have any hope of ending this losing streak.
Keys to the game:
- Mikko Koivu must somehow ignite the dismal Wild offense as captain and leader of the team.
- Wild goaltending has been a bit shaky lately and needs to hold Nashville to fewer than four goals.
- How will the Predators play offensively and defensively without captain Shea Weber for the second straight game?
- Against the Wild, Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne has been stellar yielding just one goal in 94 shots in four starts at home.
- Wild’s power-play has converted just 2 of 22 chances during this recent skid.
Prediction – While I feel this is a game the Wild could win, the statistical trends show otherwise. Predators win 3-1. The skid continues for the Wild.