Nashville Predators continue road trip with some Duck hunting

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Game 3 of the Nashville Predators’ road trip finds them in Anaheim hunting Ducks. Can they continue their success away from home?

Seventy games during the all-time regular season ledger between these two teams. One team scored 172 goals. The other a whopping 194. However, the Nashville Predators hold a one-game advantage in the series even with the -22 goal differential. The series record is 30-29-2-9.

When you add in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, you can see why this is a rivalry. The Predators, the last-place team in the playoffs, defeated the Anaheim Ducks in 6 games. The series win took the Predators to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. It was the arguably the best chance the Duck had in making to the Final since winning it all in 2007.

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This season, the two teams are having very different experiences. The Predators are excelling, lead in the NHL in points through their even-strength play. As for the Ducks, sitting in the middle of the middle of their division was not expected. Even with John Gibson in net, the Ducks are getting outscored. Calgary, Arizona, and Vancouver all sit ahead of them in the standings.

Still, this is a true rivalry. There is dislike, passion, and desire to truly beat the other. Need proof?

Song or laughter?

Playing the game “Duck Hunt” was one of my favorites things as a kid. If you ever played, you know each time you were successful, a dog would rise up holding your duck and a little song would play. Because I am a nerd, I have that little ditty as my text notification music. But, if you failed, well, the dog would laugh at you.

And, you would try to shoot the dog in frustration.

This summarizes the rivalry between the Predators and Ducks to me. Either we rise in jubilation or frustratingly yell at the screen. Thankfully, there have been more moments of jubilee recently.

Last season, Nashville swept the Ducks away. In three games, the Predators scored 12 goals and only allowed seven. There was a shootout win for the Predators in December, a rare occurrence for the franchise.

According to Corsica Hockey, Anaheim has the lowest CorsiFor rating at 5v5 this season of all 31 teams. Opponents hold a +246 shot-attempts advantage over the Ducks, leading to a 66.82 CorsiAgainst/60. However, thanks to Gibson, the Ducks have allowed 27 goals at 5v5, while also scoring 27 goals themselves. The Predators are the leagues best at 5v5, with 37 goals for Nashville, and only 20 goals allowed.

There are a few questions regarding the Predators lineup tonight. Viktor Arvidsson returned from the injured reserved list to face Dallas on Saturday. However, late in the game, he was checked into a wall hurting his hand. There have been no updates to his status yet. Calle Jarnkrok was scratched from the game on Saturday due to a lower-body injury. It is uncertain if he will suit up tonight.

While missing two players is typically not a huge concern given the Predators’ depth, the game versus the Ducks comes as the start of back-to-back games with a meeting against San Jose tomorrow. Tonight will be a physical game. So will tomorrow. Bodies are needed in order to keep moving forward.

The other question is who will start in net for the Nashville Predators. Juuse Saros was called upon to play on Saturday, meaning Pekka Rinne should get the call. But, given the offensive differences between the Ducks and Sharks, could Rinne be reserved for tomorrow? We will have to wait and see.

For jubilation to ensue, the Predators need to push play during 5v5. If Arvidsson is available, the lineup is set to pressure the Ducks all night long. Ryan Hartman would likely take the spot on the top line if Arvidsson is out. It also means Rocco Grimaldi and Zac Rinaldo will play.

What it really interesting to see is the play of one-time Predators Pontus Aberg. In 13 games this season, Aberg has more goals with the Ducks (5) than he did in 52 games with Nashville (3). As a matter of fact, he is tied with the Ducks’ team lead so far.

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Where to watch

A win tonight will give the Predators nine road-wins on the season. Only three teams all-time started their seasons 8-0-0 on the road. Odds Shark predicts the Nashville Predators will come out on top, with a four-goal performance. Time for Frosty’s!

The game tonight from Anaheim will be broadcast on Fox Sports Tennessee with puck drop just after 9:00 P.M. Central. Fans may also hear the radio call on 102.5 The Game or stream the action on the Fox Sports Go app.