GameDay: vs. Nashville (9-3-1, 19 Pts) 7:30 ET

Update (12:53 PM): John of points out that Bruce MacLeod of the Macomb Daily wrote about the play in which Torres’ stick hit Schneider’s face. Apparently, Mathieu was too sore in the jaw to talk to reporters yesterday. – Matt

Tonight is the first of eight games between these two Central Division teams this season. They split the 2005-2006 season series 4-4, with the Wings winning January 6th (3-1), February 8th (6-0) and 9th (3-2), and March 30th (4-2), and the Predators winning January 23rd (3-2) and 24th (2-1 OT), March 21st (3-2 SO), and April 18th (6-3).

The Predators had a rough start to the season, losing three in a row – twice to the Blackhawks and once to the Wild – before rebounding with a 9-0-1 record ever since. They are coming off a 4-3 win over the Wild on the 4th in the second-to-last stop of a five-game road trip during which they’ve also played in Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton, winning each time.

Steve Sullivan leads the team in goals with five, and in points with 14. Tomas Vokoun surrendered six goals in the team’s loss to Minnesota in the second game, but is 7-0-1 since then, and has a 2.88 GAA.

The Wings have won 7 in a row after a bad start of their own. Their win over Edmonton on Wednesday gave them a two-point lead in the Central over the Preds. A win tonight would help them stay ahead, even though the Preds have two games in hand.

Jason Williams will not play tonight due to a minor concussion and to swelling of his forehead due to the pressure cut he sustained when hit by Raffi Torres the other night. Brad Norton was recalled from the AHL before he even left town, and will be available to Mike Babcock. I suspect Tomas Kopecky will play tonight instead.

Since no one has published anything about an injury, I expect Mathieu Schneider to be in the lineup tonight, despite the fact that he sat out the last nine minutes or so of the game. It probably was just due to frustration, as Sarah said. I’d still like to see some comment on it from the papers, either way.

It should be a good game tonight. Both teams are hot and, with the budding rivalry, should play with intensity. The Preds will provide a good challenge to the Wings’ defense and Vokoun will make things difficult for the offense. It’ll be a good test for the guys.