The Nashville Predators have re-invented themselves.
Well, sort of.
A team that was marred by injuries to key players in the first quarter of this 2010-11 NHL season, the Predators have found a way to keep the puck out of their net while filling the oppositions.
The fact the there are still key injuries to goalie Pekka Rinne and free agent signee Matthew Lombardi, the Preds have had defenceman Ryan Suter back for the last 12 games and he along with another injury-returned player, forward Martin Erat, have contributed to the teams recent great play.
Rookie goalie Anders Lindback has provided a great foundation with his play in goal and the emergence of a capable and consistent scoring second line have been helped lift this team from near the cellar of the NHL's Western Conference to their current residence in fourth place.
Add the Predators consistent play on the penalty kill with the likes of Nick Spaling and Jerred Smithson and this club has gone 8-0-2 in the last 10 games.
The line of Sergei Kostitsyn, Marcel Goc and Martin Erat continues to pay dividends for the Preds. Kostitsyn is riding an eight-game point streak—the longest of his career. Erat has 10 points over his last eight games.
That's great hockey for a club who was 4-7-2 in their previous 14 games before this streak.
The boys from Smashville have a five-game winning streak and have been almost unbeaten at home this season, posting an 8-1-5 record.
The Predators have beaten Pheonix, Columbus, Detroit and San Jose to help climb up the NHL's Western Conference standings while also beating Carolina, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.
Nashville continues forward tonight by playing the Los Angeles Kings at home tonight before heading to Chicago on Wednesday in what are two more key conference games.
Steve Begin was recalled by the Predators on December 16th from Milwaukee (AHL). Wearing No. 28, Begin played in place of Patrick Hornqvist who was unable to go due to injury.
Begin played only 7:47 of even strength time for the Preds.
Cody Franson was not in the lineup vs. New Jersey as he is attending to personal matters at home.
Coach Barry Trotz is at win No. 428 with the Preds 3-1 win in New Jersey. Trotz is now three wins behind Dick Irvin at 431 for third all-time for wins by an NHL coach with one club.
Mike MacDonald is a Featured Columnist and covers the Nashville Predators and the NHL