Ah, Nashville. Another Western Conference opponent we have rarely seen, and one we really didn't get to see last year as one of the 'great blizzards' swept through New York City and kept thousands of True Blue away from the Garden back in February. The Preds are also the one team that many people who do the name-all-the-NHL-teams tests often forget. It is easy to overlook the epitome of mediocrity in the NHL - they have an unassuming coach, a simple system and no superstars. Barry Trotz has yet to win a Jack Adams Award but he does deserve it for getting so much out of so little year after year.
Familiar Foes: No Jason Arnott anymore but a lot of the foot soldiers still remain - Steve Sullivan, David Legwand, JP Dumon, Martin Erat, Francis Bouillon, etc. The closest thing to stars they have are defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter and goaltender Pekka Rinne. A big, technically solid Finn, Rinne may actually buck the Nashville trend of upstart goaltenders promptly losing their jobs to their backups. Patric Hornqvist came out of nowhere to save fantasy teams around the world last year with a 30 goal season but who knows if he will be able to avoid the sophomore slump. The big albino Wade Belak and the little annoying eskimo Jordin Tootoo are still providing the sandpaper in the Music City - setting up nice matchups for Boogaard and Avery/Cally. Colin Wilson - Carey's kid - scored a goal in the one game in the Garden last year and should be better in an injury-free season.
N00bz: When Arnott jumped ship David Poile picked up Matt Lombardi to replace him. Lombardi has never scored more than 20 goals before (in Calgary or Phoenix) but never was called upon to be the man like he is now. The Preds will hope Trots can bring out his best, same with former Ranger Jamie Lundmark and the lesser Kostitsyn, Sergei.
Last Year: Wednesday, February 10th, a 2-1 Nashville win.
This Year: Saturday, November 27th in Nashville.
What They Mean To Blue: A gut check. The game against the Predators comes at the back end of a stretch of six games in nine days, five of which are on the road, four are in a pair of back-to-backs - this one being the night after a Panther game.