Bruce Boudreau just addressed the media here at Sommet Center and said he expects no lineup changes tonight. There isn’t a whole lot that needs to be said about the importance of this game for the Caps, who have lost four straight.
The Predators have to be considered one of the surprises in the NHL this season. The team spent no money this offseason (other than to lock up now-backup goalie Dan Ellis) and lost top forward Alexander Radulov to the KHL. Predicted by just about everyone to languish at the bottom of the Western Conference, the Predators are currently sitting in eighth place in the West.
One of the biggest reasons for that success is goalie Pekka Rinne, who is challenging fellow netminder Steve Mason for rookie of the year honors. Rinne was the goalie for the Milwaukee Admirals - the team Boudreau’s troops in Hershey defeated for the 2006 Calder Cup. The Bears lit him up pretty well in that series, but Rinne has come a long way. He was also a nice prospect, but never in this category.
For the Caps, they will need to buck a couple of trends to end their recent skid. They have not played well against teams fighting for playoff lives of late, and the Predators certainly classify. Meanwhile, their struggles against teams from the West have been well documented. Washington is 7-10-0 against the other conference this season, and this is the last contest against a non-Eastern team.