The Nashville Predators hope their late-game loss to Minnesota is an anomaly as they head home to take on the Colorado Avalanche, who bring a familiar face.
Sadly for the Nashville Predators, the five-game win streak came to a disappointing end. Nashville’s loss to the Minnesota Wild Thursday night hurt big time. Going into Thursday’s game, that win streak was the second longest active streak in the NHL, only behind the New York Rangers six-game streak. Now the focus shifts back home to take on another divisional foe: The Colorado Avalanche.
Colorado comes to Nashville fresh off a win that saw a pulverizing of the Washington Capitals by a score of six to two. That win ended a three-game losing streak. Overall, Colorado holds a 9-7-1 record, placing them in sixth place in the Central Division.
Saturday’s match-up will be the second season meeting between the two teams. The first game of the series back on October 17 was won by Nashville four to two (Click Here for a full recap of that game). The two teams will meet three more times this season, including Saturday night’s rumble.
What To Watch For
1. Familiar Faces
Just days ago, Nashville and Colorado participated in a three-team trade. Monumentally, the trade saw Matt Duchene go to Ottawa, Kyle Turris go to Nashville and Samuel Girard and Vladislav Kamenev go to Colorado.
The trade made big news and seems to already be paying off for Nashville. Kyle Turris has one goal and two assists in three games. However, the trade may also be paying off for Colorado. Samuel Girard already has two assists himself in the three games he has played.
It was announced Friday that Kamenev had sustained a broken arm and would miss an extended amount of time. While Kamenev will not take the ice, Samuel Girard will. This will be the first time that Girard will face his old team.
2. High Scoring Avalanche Offense
The Avalanche currently rank fifth in the NHL for goals per game with 3.47 gf/gp. Additionally, six players have scored five goals or more this season, with captain Gabriel Landeskog leading the group with eight. Despite the high number of goals, the Avalanche only average 29.3 shots per game, the fifth lowest in the NHL (Nashville ranks as the fourth lowest). They shoot with intention and take advantage of opportunities, meaning Nashville can ill afford to turn the puck over.
While goals mainly come from the forwards, adding talent like Girard to the blue line might give Colorado some attack on the back end. Girard showed flashes of offensive talent in his brief stint with Nashville. Perhaps he will play a role in balancing the Avalanche attack in the future.
3. Special Teams Battle
Nashville leads the league in penalty minutes per game. An average of 15:03 of a Nashville Predators game features a player clad in gold sitting in the sin bin. Colorado spends 11:21 in the box, making them the eighth most penalized team. Honestly, it is painful to think about almost two periods of Saturday’s game being spent with one team killing a penalty. However, the statistics will prevail and the margin of victory will lie within special teams.
Both Mikko Rantanen and Filip Forsberg have five powerplay goals this season, so keep on the lookout for those guys during powerplay chances for either team. Luckily for Nashville, this game will take place at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville leads the league in home powerplay percentage, converting 36.7% of their chances. Additionally, Colorado has the third worst road penalty kill percentage, killing just 70.5% of their penalties.
The Predators must take advantage of any and all powerplay chances they get, but beware. Nashville has the fourth worst home penalty kill percentage, killing off 71.4%. They will need to be smart with their opportunities and careful with their mistakes.
(note: The Predators have not announced a starting goaltender yet)
Where to watch
Tonight’s game begins at 8/7 CT with pregame coverage beginning at 7:30/6:30 CT on Fox Sports Tennessee. An audio broadcast of the game can be heard on the Predators Radio Network and 102.5 The Game.