Scouting Report: Nashville Predators
By Eric Smith
January 1, 2010
The Columbus Blue Jackets (20-15-3) head south to take on the Nashville Predators (18-13-6). Columbus is 0-9-5 in its past 14 games at the Bridgestone Arena and 4-19-6 all-time. The 14 straight wins by Nashville against the Jackets at home mark the longest current such streak in the NHL.
The constant throughout the years is Preds coach Barry Trotz. There isn't another coach in the NHL who is more able to squeeze every last drop of talent and effort from each player.
Trotz always relies on a strong goalie, and he has that in Pekka Rinne (9-10-4). The huge, Finnish goalie doesn't have a stellar record, but he has a 2.31 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. The Preds are giving him 2.09 goals a game in support and have been shut out four times with Rinne in net.
Nashville is 28th in the NHL on the power play, with only a 13.6 percent success rate. Martin Erat and Steve Sullivan lead the team with three power-play goals, but both are injured and won't play against the Jackets. Ryan Suter is dangerous setting up goals on the man-advantage, with seven power-play assists. There has been an uptick in the power play for the Preds in their past 10 games as they have improved to 21.2 percent in that span.
Although Nashville struggles scoring on the power play, it is among the best defending the man advantage. The Predators have the fifth-best penalty kill unit in the league, 85 percent. Nashville is even better at home, with a 87.2 percent kill rate that is second best in the NHL.
The Blue Jackets have won three straight games. Here are the keys to extending that streak to four: