Game Preview: Minnesota Wild At Nashville Predators


Sean Bergenheim is slated to make his Minnesota Wild debut tonight as they take on the Nashville Predators.

Minnesota hopes the 31-year-old left winger they acquired Tuesday can add a spark to a team that lost that night 2-1 against the Edmonton Oilers.

Tonight’s tilt will be the third of five match ups between the central division opponents. The Predators won 6-5 in overtime back on December 20, and 3-1 on January 10.

Nashville has been a revelation this season, with a 41-13-7 record – the league best. Minnesota has come on lately, and sports a 31-22-7 record. This puts them one point behind the Calgary Flames for the final wild card spot.

Defenseman Shea Weber has three assists over the two games for Nashville, and Calle Jarnkrok added a goal in each game. Jarnkrok also had a goal in the Predators’ last game – a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

For the Wild, forwards Charlie Coyle (one goal, two assists) and Zach Parise (two goals, one assist) lead the Wild in scoring for the season series.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune‘s Mike Russo, Bergenheim will join Mikko Koivu and Thomas Vanek on the top line.

It will be a tough test for the Wild, on the road against the Predators who are 26-3-1 at home. Both match ups this year have been in Music City. Minnesota is a mediocre 14-14-2 on the road, an area where they’ve never really excelled.

To become an elite team, they will have to improve their road play. Obviously the support from the crowd isn’t there like it is in St. Paul, but more depth throughout the lineup can help a team that doesn’t have the last change (the home team does). Going forward down the stretch and possibly into the playoffs, this is where the Bergenheim trade can be really beneficial. He is a proven playoff scorer (12 goals and five assists in 23 games), and creates scoring depth in the lineup. Even if he stays on the top line, it means someone else that would be on the top line will be further down the lineup, adding that secondary scoring that is so important.

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