The Western Canada road trip concludes for the Nashville Predators tonight when they face the Calgary Flames.
Losses in the first two parts of the Predators three-game road trip all but sealed the team’s postseason fate, and Nashville begins their final 12 games of the season with a new outlook on the remainder of their campaign. With the Predators not going to the playoffs for the second-straight year, the team will now begin to scout, first-hand, some of their talent and prospects.
A tale of little to no offense for the club all season, the Predators now have a dozen games remaining to try some different lineups, lines and players, in anticipation of a new season this fall. Along that train of thought, the Predators announced yesterday they’d recalled forward Calle Jarnkork for tonight’s game. The Swedish forward has seven points in five games with the Milwaukee Admirals since being acquired in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings.
The Predators (29-31-10) meet the Flames (28-34-7) for the final time this season, the teams have split the two previous meetings.
Three questions for tonight’s game:
- Goals galore: Near the very bottom of the NHL in most offensive statistical categories, the Predators have actually found remarkable success against the Flames. Nashville has tallied four goals in each of the previous two matchups with Calgary, with the most recent meeting featuring forward Eric Nystrom’s franchise-record, four-goal game. With just two goals in their last three games, can facing the Flames represent another slump buster for the Predators?
- Rinne the difference: Since he missed 51 games this season, goaltender Pekka Rinne has not played against a lot of teams that Nashville has faced multiple times. Poor goaltending was a glaring issue for Nashville in Calgary’s recent 5-4 shootout win as Nystrom’s heroic effort was wasted. Rinne has come back to earth a bit after several superb starts since his recovery for injury, but can he get back on track tonight against a “weaker” Flames forward corps?
- New beginnings: A Stanley Cup run not in the cards for either of these two clubs, the Flames and Predators are essentially playing for draft position and giving young talent a chance at the NHL level. A lot of youth and experience in an NHL lineup can oftentimes result in high-paced, wide-open feeling games. Calgary and Nashville registered four goals in the third period alone in their last meeting, and six in total the one before that, will the game open up even more tonight?
Opening faceoff is at 8:00 p.m. (CST).