The Nashville Predators meet the Philadelphia Flyers tonight hoping to replicate the result from the last time they met. Hopefully with a little less drama.
The 2017-18 edition of the Nashville Predators have yet to score a victory outside of Bridgestone Arena. They got closer to that goal last Saturday night in Chicago but had to settle for an overtime loss. Tonight they travel to Philadelphia to take on a team they just saw last Tuesday night.
The Philadelphia Flyers have won two straight games since their setback in Nashville. They dropped eight goals on the Washington Capitals & five goals on the Florida Panthers, with both games in the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Center Philadelphia. Can they make it three in a row & exact a measure of revenge on the Predators?
Meet The Philadelphia Flyers, Again
Old-time hockey fans remember the Broad Street Bullies well. The Flyers won two Stanley Cups in the 1970s with a collection of players that would remind modern fans more of Cody McLeod than Sidney Crosby. These Flyers, at least so far, are more offensive-minded. They’re tied with the New Jersey Devils for the fourth-most goals this season. If you put the puck in the net often you’re going to win a lot of games. Novel concept, right?
Defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere & Jakub Voracek have ten points in Philadelphia’s first six games. Center Valtteri Fippula was the driving force behind Philadelphia’s comeback on October 10, scoring two of the Flyers’ five consecutive goals.
Michael Neuvirth (1-1-0, 1.52 goals-against average, .956 save percentage) is expected in goal Thursday night. The Predators teed off on Brian Elliott (3-1-0, 3.25, .884) in their previous meeting. The split in goalie starts has tilted towards Elliott so far, but Neuvirth’s 40-save performance against Florida on Tuesday night could warrant more opportunities.
Predators’ Staples Give Flyers Fits
Nashville’s top performers against the Flyers traditionally are top performers against everybody. Filip Forsberg led the Predators to victory in their last meeting, scoring two of Nashville’s final three goals. Forsberg has eight points in seven career meetings with the Flyers. P.K. Subban chipped in three assists on October 10 & has scored eighteen points in his career against the Flyers, his third highest mark against an NHL team.
Here’s tonight’s Nashville Predators’ projected lineup:
Alexei Emelin – P.K. Subban
You see most of the usual suspects there. Freddy Hockey slides into that fourth center spot with Nick Bonino‘s absence. I’d to see Samuel Girard‘s name somewhere in that defensive rotation, but the Predators seem to be taking it slow with him. Pekka Rinne will be in goal as per usual.
The Injury Front
Wayne Simmonds leads the Flyers with five goals & was the NHL’s Third Star of Week 1. He left Tuesday’s game with Florida early due to a lower-body injury. Philadelphia will decide later today if he will play tonight or not. He did appear for the Flyers’ morning skate.
Predators center Nick Bonino’s agent told The Tennesseean that his client is expected to miss “a couple of weeks” / Yannick Weber remains on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, he did take part in Thursday’s morning skate so he should be back soon. Roman Josi played on Tuesday night & should be available tonight as well.
Steve’s Keys To The Game
Slow the Flyers Down – Fans appreciate faster hockey, but when you play a team like the Flyers it doesn’t behoove you to try & keep up with them. Cody McLeod’s presence in the lineup tells me that Peter Laviolette intends on slowing things down tonight. Not that it worked last time, but you never know.
Don’t Fall Asleep- The Predators got off to a 3-0 lead against the Flyers last week, then seemingly lost concentration. They worked their way back into a victory, but it was a lot more difficult than it needed to be. Nashville will need a full 60-minute effort from everybody on the ice to secure their first road victory.
Goaltending – Pekka Rinne has been on point since the last time these teams played. As long as he’s on his A game Nashville always has a chance. The Flyers got to him last time, and have scored at least three goals in their last four games. Hopefully, Rinne’s bad Pennsylvania mojo will stay over in Pittsburgh.
What to Expect
Nine days ago, these two teams met in a 6-5 thriller that went down to the last seconds. It’s tough to predict that type of excitement again, but I definitely expect another high-scoring game. The Flyers have shown that they won’t give up if they fall behind early, the Predators will need to expect that and be ready for a dogfight that won’t end until the final horn.
The Predators defense & goalkeeping has been better the past two games. They’ll need to keep that play going if they want to escape Philadelphia with two points.
Follow The Game
Television coverage starts at 5:30 PM CT/6:30 PM ET on Fox Sports Tennessee with Predators Live! Pregame featuring the lovely & talented Lyndsay Rowley. Willy Daunic & Terry Crisp will have the call when the puck drops a little after 6:00 PM CT/7:00 PM ET. Pete Weber & Hal Gill will handle radio coverage for 102.5 The Game.