Ryan Suter faces his old team for the first time tonight. This is something you are going to hear about. It will be a story line before, during, and after the game. You can absolutely count on that. This will be exacerbated by the fact that Nashville Predator fans are not overly happy with the decision Suter made to come here. Many feel that promises were made (I have no idea if they were or not), and that those promises were broken. If they were, it is completely understandable, and any fan of any team would feel the same.
As friend of the Wilderness Ryan Porth (of Smashville 24/7 fame) explained, when asked how mad Preds fans really are:
It doesn't matter whether they believed he would re-sign or not, Preds fans immediately turned on Suter the moment he signed in Minnesota. Recently, an interview with Suter appeared on NHL Network and my friend walked out of the room in disgust. Outside of the Central Division rivals, I'd say Minnesota is the least liked team in Nashville right now. Preds fans would love nothing better than to stick it to Suter tonight, but the anticipated contest is March 9th when the Wild come to Music City. Suter will probably get booed every time he touches the puck that night.
The fact of the matter is, though, there is a game to play, and it is worth the same number of points as any other game. The Wild should be rested after a day off following back to back games to open the season. The Predators could be tired, playing on the back end of a back-to-back that includes travel. This should give the Wild an advantage. If the players on the Preds' roster feel as slighted as the fans in Nashville, don't count on it.
The Wild played well against the Colorado Avalanche, then came out a little flat against the Dallas Stars, and still have quite a bit of work to do to get to mid-season form. The power play and penalty kills have looked very good, but even strength has struggled a bit. With the weapons the Wild now have, they need to pull that facet of the game together to avoid the regression talk.
For the Predators, they come off a tight game against St. Louis that followed a season opening victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets that required a shoot out. While the fatigue factor can't be an excuse this early in the season, don't discount how much hockey the Preds have played. The fact that the Predators still have Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne is more than enough to give them an advantage, though. If the Wild think they can count on a tired team with no weapons to fight back, they will be outclassed very quickly.
The Predators have one of the best coaching staffs in the league, the top defenseman, and one of the best goalies around. The Wild are going to need to bring the heat, and bring it from the opening bell.
This one should be fun, as the Wild and Predators truly enjoy one goal games, and they also like to run up and down the ice on each other. Put your seat belt on, and join us for the game thread later tonight.