Five Questions For The Nashville Predators: Inconsistency, Injuries, Pekka Rinne

CHICAGO IL - DECEMBER 22: Joel Ward #29 of the Nashville Predators (R) pulls down Troy Brouwer #22 of the Chicago Blackhawks during a 2nd period confrontation in front of the Predator goal at the United Center on December 22 2010 in Chicago Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Predators 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Flyers face off against the Nashville Predators tonight at the Well, and since they're one of those teams I often throw in the "forgotten club" (along with Minnesota, Columbus, Calgary to an extent -- just teams we don't think about often as Eastern fans), I figured it'd be best to get to know them with a few questions.

Chris Burton from On the Forecheck was nice enough to answer my questions. After the jump, please. 

It seems like the Predators have been all over the Western Conference playoffs this season. Why is that? 

Two things - inconsistency, but more importantly, injuries. I know that using injuries as an excuse is somewhat of a cop-out, but there comes a point where it's a legitimate reason for a lack of consistent success. The Predators are currently without Matthew Lombardi, Steve Sullivan, Cal O'Reilly, Jordin Tootoo, Francis Bouillon, and Marek Svatos, and they've also been without Pekka Rinne, Martin Erat, Ryan Suter, Marcel Goc, and David Legwand for extended periods this season. I don't know that I've ever followed a team that's been more injury-stricken than Nashville is this year. 

And yet, they've overcome some of that with an astounding ability to plug in different players and keep going. If the Preds could just keep from following up long winning streaks with long losing streaks, they'd be in business. 

Who is Anders Lindback, where did you find him and why is he so awesome?

Anders Lindback is Swedish, 6'6' tall, 22 years old, and has Adult Still's Disease. The disease, ironically, is what kept teams away from 'The Giant', allowing David Poile to take a chance on a player who is far more talented than his draft placing would suggest. Thus far, he's been a better option in relief of Pekka Rinne than Dan Ellis, and could well develop into an NHL starting goalie down the road. 

Please tell us three things about Nashville's relationship with hockey that we probably don't already know. 

Three things, eh? Okay, here goes - for one thing, the city is an underrated hockey town. The fans don't get enough due. They show up regardless of how the team is doing, and bring the intensity every night. I'm certainly biased, but the attendance issues are massively overblown. 

Secondly, but related, we're also the originators of the TV timeout standing ovation. If you're not familiar with it, it's rather spontaneous - if the game isn't going in Nashville's favor and the boys need a momentum shift, the crowd spends the entire TV timeout on their feet cheering. If you doubt its affect, look no further than the Preds' January 15 win over Chicago. Down 2-0 in the third, Jerred Smithson scored to bring Nashville within one, and the red light came on, signaling for a timeout. The sellout crowd was deafening throughout the stoppage. When the referee dropped the puck immediately afterward, Smithson kicked it back to Suter, who flipped it over to Shea Weber. I need not tell you what happened next. 

(Ed. Note: I was asked to YouTube this. This video isn't the same game, but holy crap, it's awesome. I remember a similar thing happening in a Flyers-Penguins playoff game a few years back. It didn't work, but it was quite cool.)

Finally, we have no patience for players who don't give their all for the team. Jason Arnott was a culprit of this, and was maligned for most of his tenure as a Predator. Players like Smithson and Joel Ward, on the other hand, hold places in every fan's heart for their dedication to the logo on the front of the jersey instead of the name on the back. 

What's the biggest thing the Flyers have to worry about heading into a game with the Predators?

There are several options to choose from, here, but in the end, there's only one correct answer - Pekka Rinne. If it weren't for Tim Thomas, Rinne would be in line for the Vezina Trophy. Even when the team isn't performing their best, Rinne presents them with an excellent chance to win. If he's on, then the Flyers will lose. Sorry. 

And what's the first thing the Flyers should look to exploit?

Nashville's power play is...well, powerless. And particularly prone to mistakes and turnovers. Last I checked, Philly had some OK penalty killers in the form of Mike Richards and company. If Nashville coughs up the puck at the blueline like they did against Calgary, then the Flyers would do well to push the play the other way, and quickly.

Thanks to Chris for taking the time. Be sure to check out my answers to his questions over at On the Forecheck, and follow him on Twitter @predatweeter.

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