The Nashville Predators (3-0-2) welcome the Arizona Coyotes (2-2-0) to the Music City tonight for a Western Conference showdown. The Predators will seek to continue their regulation loss-less streak alive against a high-scoring Coyotes team (7th in goals/game in NHL).
Mike Ribeiro gets a shot at his former team tonight for the first time this season. The Coyotes bought out his contract this summer, so don’t be surprised if you see a ‘revenge-seeking’ Ribeiro on the ice tonight.
The Predators are coming off of an overtime loss in Chicago to the Blackhawks while Arizona’s last contest was a loss handed to them by the St. Louis Blues, 6-1.
Here is a look at what the forward lines looked like this morning at the team’s morning skate:
With both teams looking to get back in the win column tonight there are plenty of headlines and factors to take note of.
1. Nashville’s Penalty-Kill vs Arizona’s Power Play
Yes, power play vs penalty kill is a basic point of emphasis night in and night out but tonight each team is ranked in the top ten of the league in their respected categories. The Predators are coming off what could be a legendary penalty-kill game on Saturday as they killed off five penalties against the potent offense in Chicago. Nashville faced a total of 8:32 of penalty-kill time and did not allow a goal. Nashville currently sits at an 88.2% penalty-kill percentage making them the number eight penalty-killing team in the NHL.
Arizona comes into tonight’s contest averaging 3.25 goals per game which is 7th in the NHL. Their power-play percentage also sits at number seven in the league with a 26.7 % success rate; a very good percentage seeing how Arizona has only had 15 total power play chances, second fewest in the NHL. Nashville’s solid penalty-killing unit will be going up against a potent power play unit that is the Arizona Coyotes.
2. The Predators’ Power Play Struggles
Nashville’s power play performance has been very poor after the first five games of the season. What to take away from that last sentence is “first five games of the season.” Nashville’s power play percentage is at 12.5% ranking them as the number twenty-two power play team in the NHL, hopefully that number increases. It is worth nothing that Nashville has only had 16 power play opportunities this season; the third fewest in the league.
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The Predators have however been able to put the puck in the back of the net more than their opponents so far this season when the ice is even in five-on-five situations with a ratio of 2.0 goals for/against as the number two team in the league in that category, which is a great stat to have when your power play is struggling. That stat, with the power play numbers low, is sort of a no brainer when looking at the Predators record being 3-0-2.
If it makes you feel any better, the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche, and Minnesota Wild’s power play units are ranked lower than Nashville’s as of today. Two of those teams played for a Stanley Cup last season while the other two were in the top half of the league in the power play percentage category as last year’s season end. Let’s also not forget the Predators’ power play unit finished 12th in the NHL last season.
3. Arizona’s Goals Allowed
The Arizona Coyotes come into tonight’s game allowing 4.5 goals per contest, which is the worst goals allowed number in the NHL. Now, of course that number comes from a small sample size seeing how the Coyotes have only played four games this season. Arizona has given up six goals twice so far this season, losing both of those games. The Coyotes allowed four goals to the Edmonton Oilers and two goals to the Los Angeles Kings in their two victories on the season.
It’s interesting that Arizona has allowed the most goals per game this season but has a decent stat-line in the shots allowed per game category with 29.0 shots per game, 12th best in the NHL. That leads us to the next headline…
4. Devan Dubnyk In Net for the Coyotes
Last season the Coyotes’ number-one netminder, Mike Smith, posted a 27-21-10 record with a .915 save percentage; his numbers this season, granted he’s only played in three games, have been bad. Smith enters tonight with a 1-2-0 record with a .822 save percentage. Smith has allowed 16 goals on 90 shots faced; not the numbers the Coyotes expected nor wanted to see from their number one goalie.
Smith is coming off of a rough performance against the St. Louis Blues where he allowed six goals this past Saturday in a loss.
In steps Devan Dubnyk. Devan Dubnyk, who played two games for the Predators last season, has been the “number two” goalie so far this year for the Coyotes. Dubnyk’s one start this season was an overtime win over the defending Stanley Cup Champions where he stopped 24 of 26 shots. Tonight it seems as if Dubnyk will get the start for Arizona.
Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. CST and the game can be seen on Fox Sports Tennessee.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com