The Nashville Predators take on their big cat bros from the Sunshine State tonight. The Panthers are on the latter half of a back to back.
After a big win in overtime last night against Vegas, the Panthers travel to face the second best in the West. The Nashville Predators should not take this Florida squad lightly as they boast one of the best lines in hockey and a few hot players.
Who to watch
I am absolutely in love with Aleksander Barkov. He currently has five goals on the penalty kill and 43 points in 43 games. He’s a legitimate star in the NHL and is equally as good on the defensive side of the puck as he is on the offensive side. Barkov should be in the conversation for the Selke, but he’ll likely never win while he plays in a tiny hockey market like Sunrise. Watch out for Barkov whenever he steps on the ice, because all it takes is a moment for him to strike. Also, he’s the best shootout artist on the planet. Seriously, go look up his highlights.
Playing alongside Barkov is Jonathan Huberdeau. The former Calder winner is having himself a career year with 45 points in 44 games. He’s an incredible passer who can truly thread the needle from anywhere on the ice. He’s incredibly dangerous on the power play but can make a team pay at five on five if given any space whatsoever. Expect him to dominate around the perimeter of the offensive zone.
Do you remember the 2014 draft and how fun that was? There was rumors swirling and one of my favorite hashtags ever, #PlayBadForEkblad. Well, the 21-year-old Aaron Ekblad hasn’t disappointed so far in his early career. He’s eating some tough minutes against top competition and only starting in the offensive zone 45% of the time. His growth has been non-linear but still impressive, Ekblad does have 14 points in 44 games. I’d expect him to show up in a big way against the top line for the Nashville Predators.
The Nashville Predators
The defense is different today as Mattias Ekholm has been absent from the morning skate.
The biggest questions today will be separating Kevin Fiala from Turris and Johansen. It’s a surprising move considering how deadly Fiala and Johansen were against the Coyotes. This is clearly a move to obtain scoring from the third line.
The defense is how you’d expect considering that Mattias Ekholm might not play.
- Consistency: The Panthers are coming off of a back-to-back and just traveled a thousand miles or so. Playing all three periods with the same intensity will yield great results, especially as the game goes on.
- Don’t play from behind: It’s never a good thing to go down early, but some teams hold the lead better than others. The Panthers are one of the teams that can shut down the neutral and defensive zone if they go up by a goal or two. The Nashville Predators need to not let the Panthers get an early lead.
Where to watch
The game will be on Fox Sports TN at 7PM Central. You can also find the radio broadcast on 102.5 the Game.