Fresh off a four-game road trip, the Nashville Predators will play at home tonight with a different looking team than when they set out with a week and half ago.
The Predators (31-31-10) wrap up their season series with the Colorado Avalanche (44-21-6). The Avalanche have won two of the first three meetings, all of which have been pretty high-scoring affairs.
Nashville lost rookie defenseman Seth Jones to “concussion-like” symptoms last game, while forwards Paul Gaustad and Patrick Eaves also remain out with upper-body injuries. Open spots on the roster have cleared a pathway for the NHL debut of forward Calle Jarnkrok and Filip Forsberg’s first NHL action since October.
Jarnkrok, especially, has been impressive in his two games at the top level, recording two assists in a pair of games.
Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist will probably suit up for the Predators after missing the team’s last game due to the birth of his first child, Isabella. But that’s about the extent of the good news on the injury front.
Three questions for this evening’s matchup:
- Offensive shootout: The last two Avalanche and Predators meetings have featured a combined total of 19 goals. The Predators lit the lamp four times in a losing effort in the last matchup and will likely need their offense clicking again if they want a chance to claim a third-straight win. Both of Nashville’s last two wins have come in ways on opposite ends of the spectrum (a 6-5 win in Calgary and a 2-0 victory over Chicago), will they be comfortable playing in either a defensive or offensive battle tonight?
- Strangers at home: Nashville is winless in their last five home games (all regulation losses), a stat that almost doesn’t seem possible with how dominant the Predators have been in Nashville over the last 10 years. Even worse, the Predators have not even held a lead over the dismal five-game stretch, can the team finally claim the game’s first score tonight?
- Worst to third: The Avalanche’s bounce-back campaign has been one of the more impressive story lines in the NHL this year. Led by first-year head coach Patrick Roy, Colorado has managed to harness the power of their young offensive guns and play more of a team-game in front of goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Forgotten are the days when Nashville swept the Avalanche in two-straight seasons (just a couple years ago) and nearly erased is the memory of Colorado’s last-placed finish in the Western Conference last year. Heading confidently toward the playoffs this season, can forwards Matt Duchene and Nathan Mackinnon claim their third victory in four tries over the Predators?
The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. (CST) for the first of two-straight Predators games at Bridgestone Arena this week.