Marked ManMarch 28, 2008
At this point in the season every game for the Predators carries huge playoff implications. To say we need every point we can get is a huge understatement and tonight’s tilt against division rival Columbus is as big as they get.
The Preds are coming off a hard fought (literally and figuratively) 3-0 win over the Bluejackets on Tuesday night. A Game that saw the play get very physical. While that is not out of the norm when these two teams meet up there seemed to be something different about the level of hostility on Tuesday.
At the center of most of this hostility was none other than Predator Jordin Tootoo. No doubt he will be a marked man tonight in Columbus as the Bluejackets try to break the hold that the Predators have over them. Once only an annoyance and a one trick pony Tootoo has developed his game and has posted a career high in goals (10) and points (16) this season. I really think that Tootoo could be a 20 goal scorer in this league and I am thirlled that we have him locked up for a couple more years.
Over the past two years the Preds at 14-0-1 against the Bluejackets. While the record may look impressive these contests have been, for the most part, close contests. (pause…looking up stats to back up my blanket statement)
Check that…the Preds have dominated the Jackets. Yes, there have been some close games (6 one goal games over the past two years) but overall the Preds are outscoring the Jackets 23-12 this year and 51-24 over the past two seasons. Yes. we have their number and they hate it. Ken Hitchcock cannot seem to get his team past the mental roadblock that is the Predators. The Predators are to the Jackets what the Sharks are to the Preds.
What do I expect tonight? On Tuesday both teams played with a great sense of urgency and were it not for the great play from Dan Ellis the score may well have been very different. Prior to Tuesday’s tilt Hitchcock was still hopeful that a win out by his team would get them in the playoffs. While not mathematically eliminated the Bluejackets are pretty much out of it sitting 7 points back with 5 to play. I still expect a full attack from them however as they attempt to do all they can to play spoiler to the Preds attempts to make their 4th straight post season.
Physically I expect this to be a game where Columbus comes out and tries to set the tone. It will be up to the Preds to try and weather that storm early and perhaps goad them into taking a few penalties. There is no one better at doing that than our number 22…Tootoo. Love him or hate him he knows how to get under an opponents skin. While I would not be surprised to see Trotz dress Hordichuck I hope that he doesn’t. We need all the skill we can get out there tonight be casue two points is better than a won fight.
Scoreboard Watching: Both teams that sit ahead of us are in action tonight as the Canucks (2 points ahead) travel to Minnesota (7 points ahead) and Edmonton (1 point behind) travels to Colorado (4 points ahead). Tonight I am rooting for the Wild and the Oilers. Yes that would keep the Oilers right therewith us but we have a game in hand and if we take care of ourselves we don’t have to worry about what they do.