By Amanda DiPaolo
Nashville Predators 23-13-6
Florida Panthers 19-20-2
The Nashville Predators won their season high sixth game on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena. Thursday night the Preds try to make it seven straight victories in South Florida when the Predators visit Miami to take on the Panthers.
Florida is coming off of a 4-3 overtime win against the Capitals on Tuesday night. Incidentally, when Nashville played the Panthers in Music City in December, the previous game for Miami had been a 3-0 shutout of Washington.
Florida is in 11th place in the Eastern Conference and is already 11 points out of eighth spot. Eleventh in the Western Conference, currently San Jose, puts you only three points back. Due to the lack of breathing room in the Western Conference, all teams in the West need to play every night as if a playoff berth were on the line.
The key for Nashville Thursday night is to focus on the Panthers and not look ahead to the weekend’s back-to-back matchup against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.
A win on Thursday night would give Nashville 54 points on the season and would create a little bit of breathing room between them and opponents such as the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets. Going into the contest, Nashville has 52 points on the season which is one point less than last season’s points total after 42-game played.
The Predators, who have outscored the opposition 24-7 during their current winning streak, have also won five out of the last of six meetings between these two teams. Nashville also boasts a 7-2-2 record when facing Eastern Conference opponents this season. Nashville has gone 4-0-2 against the Panthers’ Southeast Division.
Players to watch include the Ward-Smithson-Spaling line, Nashville’s All-Star Shea Weber as well as Sergei Kostitsyn.
Watch Joel Ward fight the battles in the corners, Smithson win faceoffs and Nick Spaling go to the net to try to find loose pucks. All the while these three players are trying to score goals their real job is to make sure the opposition’s top line doesn’t score.
Sergei Kostitsyn now has the same amount of points as his Montreal Canadiens brother Andrei, with 23 points on the season. With eleven goals on the season, Kostitsyn leads the League in shooting percentage at 25.0 percent.
Captain Shea Weber extended his points streak to six games on Tuesday, a career high. Weber now has 15 points in his last 15 games.
Nashville plays Chicago twice on the weekend in a home and home series for playoff positioning. The two weekend games are a real opportunity to put some space between Nashville and teams beneath them in the standings. The first game in the home and home is at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night. Only very limited tickets remain.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount.