The Nashville Predators look to keep pace in the Western Conference as the Golden Knights visit Bridgestone. And, the storylines are great.
“Be unpredictable, be real, be interesting. Tell a good story.” Thus states American author James Dashner. And while you may not know who he is, the words are still true. Look no further than the Nashville Predators as they face the Vegas Golden Knights tonight in Bridgestone.
Storylines are many.
Fan favorite James Neal returns to Nashville after the team left him exposed to Vegas in the Expansion Draft. How will he be greeted? Well, considering this is Nashville, and Neal was an important part of the team, I am certain the fans will cheer for him before and after the game.
Then you have brother versus brother, and playing in front of their father. When Vegas takes the ice tonight with Malcolm Subban in net, it will be the first time P.K. Subban will play against his brother in professional hockey. Who will get the upper-hand? Will the older P.K. prove dominant over his little sibling, or will the Malcolm have all the answers. And, with Vegas hosting their first Father’s trip, Karl Subban will be in attendance watching both sons.
Let’s not forget the connection between the two cities during the Vegas shooting just a few months ago. A country music festival in Vegas was the target of a white male shooter. Since then, Nashville hosted Country Rising to raise funds to support those hurt by the shooting. It was the first performance for Jason Aldean after the horrific event where he was on-stage.
On the ice
Both teams are in the hunt for not only the playoffs but for the top spot in the Western Conference. Right now, Nashville sits in the third spot in the conference, just two points behind the streaking Los Angeles Kings. The Golden Knights are fifth, trailing the Predators by four points.
The Predators are hot, winning eight of their last ten games. And, they are 13-3-1 since November started. Additionally, the Predators are one of the best home teams in all of the NHL. Contrast that with Vegas. After a great opening month to start their franchise, the Golden Knights have fallen back just a bit. Since November 1, Vegas is 9-6-1. Very respectable, especially given the team is brand new.
However, they are 6-7-1 on the road.
All that said…
…this is a blank slate as this is the first meetings. Vegas boasts a potent offense, with six forwards accumulating 17 or more points. That includes James Neal who has 21 points. Their 73 even-strength goals is fourth best in the NHL. But, with their rotating-door of goalies due to injury, the Golden Knights allowed 59 goals at even-strength. That is above the NHL average.
After being the worst team at even-strength scoring early in the season, the Predators are now 20th with 58 goals. It is their special teams that are, well, special. With 29 power play goals, Nashville is third in the NHL in the man-advantage. They also kill of 84% of short-handed chances.
The Predators are coming off a physical game in Dallas that saw Cody McLeod and Pontus Aberg notch their first goals of the season. Seeing players on the third and fourth lines is refreshing, as the Predators will need production up and down the roster to remain in contention.
Filip Forsberg has scored a point in every home game this season. Can he continue this trend? If he does, it will certainly put the Predators in a place to win. Furthermore, the line of Craig Smith, Kyle Turris and Kevin Fiala have accumulated 35 points since the Turris Trade.
Tonight, it will be unpredictable. It will be real and interesting.
Ryan Johansen was placed on Injured Reserve this morning, retroactive to December 2. Also, the Nashville Predators sent Juuse Saros back to Milwaukee in order to give him more playing time. It is a great move considering the team is off for five consecutive days after tonight.
With that in mind, here is the projected lineup for tonight versus the Golden Knights.
Kevin Fiala – Kyle Turris – Craig Smith
Filip Forsberg – Calle Jarnkrok – Pontus Aberg
Alexei Emelin – P.K. Subban
Where to watch
Tonight’s game will be broadcast on Fox Sports – Tennessee starting at 7:00 PM. Pregame show will start at 6:30 PM. Don’t forget, if you an XFinity customer, the FS-TN channel moved to 1250. For those driving, you can hear the game on 102.5 The Game.