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Hot Swedish Twins Tonight in Nashville

Once again the Nashville Predators catch an opponent who's had to travel after playing the night before, as Vancouver won in Chicago 3-2 last night (follow the link to Canucks Hockey Blog, a fine Vancouver resource whose author is my opponent this week in Mirtle's pool). Since uber-goalie Roberto Luongo got the victory in that match, the Preds might not have to face him tonight, or at least if they do, he'd at least be battling fatigue. Hey, you take whatever break you can get against him. Vancouver currently stands at 15-10-2, in a tie for first place in the Northwest with Minnesota, and they're 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. The Preds come in with a 13-10-2 record and 6-3-1 in their last 10, so we're looking at a battle of solid teams that are playing well currently.

For Nashville, one of the major factors will be how well they shut down Henrik Sedin (5G, 21A), the playmaker to twin brother Daniel's goal-scoring (9G, 16A). Last year, out of Daniel's 36 goals, 20 of them (55.6%) came off a First Assist by Henrik, the highest such figure in the NHL for any player with 20 or more goals. Basically, if you can deny Henrik the puck, it should also choke off Daniel's production as well.

Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks
Stop #33, and you shut down #22 as well.

After the Sedins, team captain Marcus Naslund is enjoying a resurgent season (good for me since I picked him in the 6th round for my fantasy hockey team) as he leads the team with 11 goals, with secondary production coming from Brendan Morrison and Ryan Kesler. Mattias Ohlund leads their defensemen in scoring, and has been particularly hot since coming back from a four-game suspension, with two goals and two assists in his last four games.

On the Nashville side, Vancouver will try and take advantage of depth issues for the Predators, as Scott Nichol sits out his suspension, Vern Fiddler is likely out with a groin (I sure hope he has a good time), and Radek Bonk is questionable. Will Barry Trotz dress extra defensemen to fill out the bench, and put Marek Zidlicky up on the wing like he did a few times last season? That didn't work out particularly well, so I would hope not. This may be one of those nights where you try double-shifting your leaders (Arnott, Erat, Dumont, Legwand) and see what they're made of.

Regardless, it should be a good time tonight as this is the first home game since the Freeman group's purchase of the team was approved by the NHL's Board of Governors. The actual sale hasn't closed yet pending the resolution of crossed t's and dotted i's, and assorted financial maneuverings as detailed by the ever-thorough Richard Lawson, now of the Nashville City Paper.

NOTE: Many thanks to Joe Pelletier for recognizing this blog's coverage of the six-month ownership saga. It's greatly appreciated.

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