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Thrashers At Predators: Nashville Can Clinch A Playoff Spot Tonight With Win

Tonight's game is untelevised, so you'll have to either listen to it on 680 the Fan (or the Thrashers' official website), or have Center Ice to watch the Nashville feed.

The Predators are on the cusp of clinching another playoff position, solidifying their spot as one of the league's most reliably solid franchises. Backed by the coaching of Barry Trotz and the defense of captain Shea Weber, the Predators don't have to score a bunch of goals or play very flashy hockey to win - they just play solid, responsible games, and of course get some help from their goaltender, Pekka Rinne. Hockey's very successful in Nashville thanks to the continued success of the team.

The reason why you don't hear relocation rumors about Nashville, but can't stop hearing them about the Thrashers, is because the Predators are everything that Atlanta should be, but isn't. They're not defensively responsible. They have no continuity in coaching or team philosophy. They've never been able to have a goaltender who can maintain his strong play over the course of an entire season. They try too much to score, and not enough to win.

A problem tonight is that the team's best defenseman, Tobias Enstrom, did not make the trip thanks to an injury he sustained in Saturday's loss. The Thrashers have called up enthusiastic young defenseman Andrei Zubarev from the Chicago Wolves as a bit of an advanced try-out for next season. Also not making the trip to either Nashville or New York is Radek Dvorak.

There are a few things to look forward to these last four games of the season. Evander Kane is one goal away from 20. Bryan Little needs just three goals to hit that mark, as does captain Andrew Ladd to hit 30. Blake Wheeler, if he could manage four more, would hit 20 goals as well. The balanced scoring that the team needed to focus on to survive is there - unfortunately it's been on sabbatical since New Year's Day.

Chances are good that Chris Mason is in net tonight against the Preds as the revolving goaltending tandem continues.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.