The Nashville Predators are coming off a disappointing loss in Boston. All focus is now set on a Stanley Cup Finals rematch against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Nashville Predators are 0-1 to start the season for the first time since 2013. Despite this, everybody’s attention is focused on what lays ahead. More specifically, a Stanley Cup Finals rematch with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The last time the Predators and the Penguins played each other, we were all forced to watch another team raise Lord Stanley’s Cup in our house. While it definitely will not make up for how last season ended, going into PPG Paints Arena and leaving with two points will certainly take some of the sting away.
The Pittsburgh Penguins
More from Predators News
- Joakim Kemell Flashes his Offense in Nashville Predators Loss to Tampa
- Nashville Predators 2023 Training Camp Spotlight: Luke Schenn
- Nashville Predators 2023 Training Camp Roster Officially Announced
- Nashville Predators Rookie Camp will Showcase Loaded Prospect Pool
- How Crazy Would Signing Phil Kessel be for the Nashville Predators?
The Penguins are entering tonight’s game winless on the young season, as they lost back-to-back games to start the year. Their most recent loss was an absolute drubbing to the Chicago Blackhawks. Matt Murray, who is widely considered one of the best young goaltenders, allowed six goals on 31 shots. Backup net minder, Antti Niemi, surrendered four goals himself. The lone goal for the Penguins was a power play goal from Phil Kessel.
Make no doubt about it, Thursday’s loss for Pittsburgh was an embarrassment, but on the same hand, it is also an outlier for how their season will pan out. I am sure many Predators’ fans had a great laugh at the Penguins’ expense, but an embarrassing loss will only make the Penguins come out and play that much tougher in their next game.
The Nashville Predators wholeheartedly dropped the ball in their first game against Boston. They struggled to maintain any sustainable offense. Other than the JOFA line, Roman Josi, and P.K. Subban the rest of the team was pretty frustrating to watch. So, could this possibly lead to some lineup changes?
Just for a point of reference, this is how the offensive lines looked in Boston:
Adam Vingan, who writes for the Tennessean, was at Predators’ practice yesterday and tweeted out the lines Nashville was running with in practice. This is how the offense looked as of yesterday:
When comparing the two, there are some pretty drastic differences. Most notably, Fiala did not practice. Once again, according to Adam Vingan, he saw Fiala in the locker room after practice and said that he appeared to be ok. It’s likely he is being held out for precautionary reasons, as it did not appear that he suffered any injuries. Regardless, it is a waiting game at this point and we should find out more information later today.
UPDATE: After this post was published, it was announced that Fiala will be out of the line-up due to an upper-body injury.
Other apparent changes to the lineup include Järnkrok jumping up to the second line. Coincidentally, this pushes Nick Bonino down to the third line. Another intriguing move is Watson manning the fourth line center position. He played center early in his professional career but has mainly played wing as of late. While we are not sure whether or not he will get to play, it is refreshing to see Aberg get some action on the second line. He was a healthy scratch on Thursday, in large part because of his performance in the preseason. However, getting practice reps on the second line has to be a good sign moving forward.
What to Expect
Simply put, expect a physical, high-energy hockey game. The Penguins are returning home after their blowout loss to Chicago and are looking to pick up their first win of the season. Likewise, Nashville is looking to get their first win of the season, but at the same time, they would love to get some revenge on the Penguins for last season. I am a firm believer in playoff series generating rivalries. This one is no different as Nashville and Pittsburgh appear to be on the verge of a mini-rivalry.
Neither team is going to take this game lightly, which is why I expect this to be a pretty physical outing. The Penguins acquired former St. Louis Blues’ forward Ryan Reeves during the offseason, and I fully expect him to make himself known early. As for Nashville, obviously McLeod is never afraid to drop the gloves, but Austin Watson is who I would keep an eye on to take his physicality to the next level.
No matter what else happens, one thing is certain: tonight’s game is going to be an exciting spectacle with an electric atmosphere. The Pittsburgh fans are going to let the Predators have it. And, of course, Nashville is going to do their best to silence them.
Follow the Game
Tonight’s game will be broadcasted locally on Fox Sports TN at 6:00PM, where Willy Daunic and Chris Mason will have the call. The game is not on national television, but if you are out of the local market the NHL Network will also be carrying the game tonight. The radio broadcast will be held on 102.5 The Game where Pete Weber and Hal Gill will cover all the action.
I was excited for the first game of the season. But I am even more so for tonight’s game. I think we are all in agreement when I say that 6 o’clock can’t get here any quicker.