Your Nashville Predators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at 6:00 CST at Maple Leaf Gardens. Let’s see how these teams stack up.
- Predators 10-9-2 (22 pts) 7th in the Central
- Maple Leafs 13-7-1 (27 pts) 3rd in the Atlantic
- Predators 2-3-0
- Maple Leafs 2-2-1
- Goals per game – Preds 2.3 (24th) – Maple Leafs 2.9 (9th)
- Goals against – Preds 2.9 (21st) – Maple Leafs 2.3 (8th)
- Power Play % – Preds 20.0 (12th) – Maple Leafs 24.3 (3rd)
- Penalty Kill % – Preds 82.2 (16th) – Maple Leafs 84.0 (11th)
This is the Preds 9th game on the road out of their last ten and they have struggled away from Bridgestone arena. So far, Nashville is 5-7-1 on the road this season. However, this is actually looking like it will be an improvement over the 5-14-5 record on the road from last season. Nashville has struggled at both ends of the ice, but seems to be making strides recently. After going almost three full games without a goal, the Preds have 9 in the last two games and have only allowed two.
One key to the Preds’ trending upwards has been the play of Marek Mazanec. Mazanec made his fourth consecutive start against Detroit on Tuesday and posted his first NHL shutout in the 2-0 victory. The question of who will fill the void for Pekka Rinne looks like it is being answered by the young Czech netminder. While rumors have swirled about potential acquisitions to help bridge the gap until Rinne returns, it looks like those rumors will be for not. Over the last two games, Mazanec has lowered his goals-against-average to 2.45 and his save percentage is now at .927. While he has not played enough games to technically qualify, his gaa would be in the middle of the league and his save percentage approaching the top ten. Those are more like what we have come to expect from the Preds goaltending.
Another change paying dividends for the Preds is the switch of defensive pairings. Shea Weber has been playing consistently with Roman Josi and it has allowed him to take more chances offensively. Seth Jones has also benefitted from playing fewer minutes against top lines. He has continued to look comfortable on the ice and Kevin Klein has continued in Weber’s skates as a stabilizing defensive partner.
The Maple Leafs were big players in the free agent market over the summer and are finally starting to see some of the dividends. David Clarkson finally scored his first goal with the Leafs earlier this week after serving his ten game suspension to start the season. Clarkson has been seeing a lot of ice time with another free agent signing, Mason Raymond. Raymond is off to a great start this season with 8 goals through 21 games. The Leafs also have a number of other offensive threats that the Preds will need to be wary of. The Preds need to make sure they stay disciplined and not let the Leafs get that highly-ranked power play on the ice.
Prediction – Predators 3-2 (SO). Mazanec continues to play solid and keep the Preds going in the right direction. David Legwand scores the winner in the shootout, with a new move.