What To Watch For: Predators – Jets


The Nashville Predators (2-0-1) take a visit to Winnipeg (1-2-0) to take on the Jets for what will be Nashville’s first contest away from Bridgestone Arena this season and the first home game for the Jets so far this year.

The Predators have gotten off to a very good start to the season with particularly solid play from their second and fourth-lines along with great play from the back end starting with goalie Pekka Rinne.

Winnipeg opened their season with a three-game road trip winning only their season opener at Arizona 6-2 before falling to San Jose and Los Angeles in their following two games.

Evander Kane will not be taking the ice for the Jets tonight as he is battling a knee injury he suffered on opening night.

Pekka Rinne (2-0-1) gets his fourth consecutive start in net for the Predators. This is somewhat of an interesting decision by head coach Peter Laviolette with a trip to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks coming up tomorrow night. Will Laviolette go with backup Carter Hutton tomorrow in Chicago or will he put Rinne in net for the fifth time this season in as many games? The Jets will go with netminder Ondrej Pavelec (1-1-0)  tonight.

Here’s what to watch for:

1. Filip Forsberg on the top line?

Forsberg has been skating with the top line at practice since the shootout loss to Calgary earlier this week. In that particular game we saw Forsberg play on the second-line while Colin Wilson swapped places with Gabriel Bourque on the top line. All indications point to Forsberg skating on the first-line tonight in Winnipeg. Forsberg has one goal and three assists on the year putting him tied for the most points on the team this season (4). Will we see Forsberg continue his stellar play in Winnipeg tonight on the first-line with Mike Ribeiro and James Neal?

2. Season Debut for Viktor Stalberg

Earlier today, news was released that Viktor Stalberg will be available for tonight’s game. Stalberg has been battling a lower-body injury and has not played so far this season for the Predators. Stalberg skated with the second-line at yesterday’s practice with Derek Roy and Craig Smith. With Stalberg ‘available’ for tonight’s game it is pretty safe to say that he will make his season debut.

Here are the lines seen at the Predators practice yesterday per the Predators official site:

“Forsberg – Ribeiro – Neal

Stalberg – Roy – Smith

Wilson – Jarnkrok – Jokinen

Bourque – Gaustad – Nystrom

Clune – Cullen – Beck”

3. Will James Neal get it going?

James Neal has yet to score a point while wearing a Predators jersey in his short three game career with Nashville. That’s not to say that his play has necessarily been bad though. Neal has registered 12 shots on net so far this season which leads the team. With Neal putting so many shots on net and if he continues to do so, a goal or an assist is bound to happen sooner rather than later. Expect to see Neal get on the scoring sheet very soon, quite possibly tonight.

4. Olli Jokinen’s Return To Winnipeg

Olli Jokinen played two seasons with Winnipeg before signing a one-year contract with the Predators this off season. Jokinen scored a total of 57 points in 127 total games as a Jet. Jokinen has yet to add a point for the Predators this season. Will he do so against one of the seven NHL teams he has played for tonight in Winnipeg?

5. Winnipeg’s Shot Count

The Predators enter tonight’s contest allowing just 22 shots per game, the lowest number among all NHL teams. The Jets have averaged 29 shots per game through their first three games of the season. The Jets also come into tonight as the number-24 ranked team in goals/game with 2.33. It will be interesting to see how the Predators defense responds tonight after being out shot by Calgary 28-21 which was the first time this season Nashville was out shot by their opponent. Nashville has allowed 1.67 goals/game so far this season. Winnipeg of course will be wanting to throw pucks towards Pekka Rinne, but just like any other night be sure and keep an eye on the shot count for both teams. A bottom tiered team in goals/game taking on a top-three team (Nashville) in goals allowed/game makes for an interesting contest.

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. CST and the game can be seen on FS-TN.

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