Weekend Preview: Nashville

Every Saturday, FTR will pick the five games to watch over the upcoming weekend.

This weekend's soundtrack: Nashville by Liz Phair (from Whip-Smart, back when she was still good) -- with back-to-back road games against Dallas and Tampa Bay, the Preds seem to be primed for their first regulation loss of the season. Will they sink like Liz Phair's career or will they shine like her gem of a debut album?

#5 New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers, Sunday @ 7 PM ET
Both of these rivals had a rough start to the season, though they've managed to find some stability. The Rangers haven't won at home yet, though a workmanlike effort against the Toronto Maple Leafs has brought a little bit of momentum their way despite not having key offensive players in the lineup. The Devils aren't exactly lighting the world on fire either, but a Martin Brodeur-led shutout is a good place to start. It's too early to say these teams are trending up, but they have at least a foothold and a little bit of rivalry couldn't hurt either.

#4 Carolina Hurricanes at Phoenix Coyotes, Saturday @ 9 PM ET
What's the big deal about this game? Well, Carolina hasn't played a single game at RBC Center yet -- they started with the NHL Premiere series, then traveled all over their native continent. After Saturday night's game, they'll get a well-deserved break until Wednesday night's true home opener (the one European "home" game doesn't count). Will they be on fumes or will the light at the end of the tunnel be enough for an inspired effort in Phoenix? As for the Yotes, they drew well in the home opener then had a dismal turnout for a weeknight game against the Los Angeles Kings. Let's see how a Saturday night match-up goes for the Yotes faithful.

#3 Los Angeles Kings at Colorado Avalanche, Saturday @ 9 PM ET
Two of last year's biggest surprises go head to head. While they're not necessarily doing things the same way as last season, some things are still consistent: both Jonathan Quick and Craig Anderson are off to dynamite starts. For the Kings, Anze Kopitar finally scored the other night, which may open the floodgates on his scoring touch. Chris Stewart's continued evolution has been a nice story, but the bigger story has to be the rebirth of John-Michael Llies, with nine points in seven games.

#2 Nashville Predators at Tampa Bay Lightning, Sunday @ 6 PM ET
There's only one team left in the NHL without a regulation loss and that would be the Nashville Predators. That loss might come at the hands of the red-hot Dallas Stars (see below), but the odds will be stacked against them against Tampa Bay. Not only is Tampa Bay playing well, Nashville will have to travel from Dallas to Tampa Bay overnight and start the following game in less than 24 hours. That'd be brutal for a home back-to-back, but it's even worse with continental travel involved.

#1 Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars, Saturday @ 8 PM ET
You could say that these are the two best teams in the NHL during the early part of the season. We'll see what happens when the collide in Texas, and while this might not be a marquee match-up to the casual eye, die-hard fans know that this should be a doozy from the way both teams are playing right now.

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