The Nashville Predators split their first two games to begin this week, with two more contests on the horizon.
On Tuesday, Nashville concluded their four-game Western Canadian road trip with a victory in Winnipeg. The Predators ended their journey with a 2-1-1 record.
The Predators play two more games this week, a back-to-back set on Friday and Saturday, at home against the New Jersey Devils and on the road in St. Louis to face the Blues.
Four questions confronting the Predators this week:
- Health: Even with goaltender Pekka Rinne on injured reserve for the majority of the season, the Predators have enjoyed one of their most injury-free seasons in recent memory. Things took a turn for the worst, however, during Nashville’s road trip, as forwards Matt Cullen and Viktor Stalberg were forced out of the lineup due to upper-body injuries (illness) and now Predators captain Shea Weber has also suffered an upper-body injury of his own. Will any of these players return to Nashville’s lineup for their two upcoming games?
- Starting Goalies: Like last week, the Predators will play two games in two nights. Last week, netminder Carter Hutton was given the first (and more important) start against the Vancouver Canucks (a 2-1 win for Nashville) and newly-acquired goalie Devan Dubnyk faced the Calgary Flames (a 5-4 shootout win for Calgary). Which goalie will be given the tougher start against one of the Central Division’s top teams: the St. Louis Blues? The answer will give a look into the current state of Nashville’s goaltender tandem.
- Youth: Recent injuries have given Milwaukee Admirals call-ups, forwards Taylor Beck and Colton Sissons, a chance to break into the Predators lineup. Sissons picked up his first NHL point in his first game with Nashville on Tuesday. Beck has played 15 and 11 minutes in his two contests with the big club and helped Nashville score two goals against the Oilers that were later disallowed. Will either of these two young forwards turn their opportunity into more of a permanent position with Nashville?
- Defensemen Scoring: Of the 15 goals scored by the Predators over their last five games, Nashville’s defensemen have factored into 10 of them. When Nashville traded for Michael Del Zotto last Wednesday, the Predators brought even more offensive ability to their D corps. Will the Predators blueliners continue to help light the lamp at a high rate this week?
Nashville takes on the New Jersey Devils at Bridgestone Arena on Friday at 7:00 p.m. (CST).