The top two teams for the NHL face each other tonight. There are several storylines we are following as the Nashville Predators take on the Lightning.
It is being touted as a “possible” Stanley Cup Final matchup by media around Nashville. They hype-train is fueled up and in motion. Still, the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning face off tonight ranking as the top two teams in the NHL. There are two things that separate the teams. The Predators have two more goals on the season and a 4-1 win over the Lightning in Tampa Bay.
Calling it a Stanley Cup preview seems a bit premature. While the teams are among the best in the league, it is only Thanksgiving. Last time I checked the Cup Finals were at the end of May or beginning of June. There are 62 more games to go, so nothing is decided.
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What we will see, however, are two of the best teams going after each other. The Nashville Predators are tops in 5v5 play. No team has scored more or allowed fewer goals at even-strength than the Predators. Only the Winnipeg Jets have allowed fewer total goals on the season.
On the flip side, no team has scored more power play goals than the Lightning. Their 22 goals come on 74 chances, placing them as the leagues fourth best. And their penalty kill is just as strong, with an 82.67% success rate.
There are more stories that are interesting. With his long and successful career, it is no shock that Pekka Rinne is on the verge of another record. Currently, Rinne sits 28th all-time in wins with 318. It is likely he is in net tonight and could move up to tie Miikka Kiprusoff with 319 wins.
Not only would the pair be 27th overall, but they would also be the all-time leaders for Finnish-born goalies. The next closest active goalie is Tuukka Rask with 242 wins.
What about Kevin Fiala? The season certainly is not progressing the way he or the team hoped. With only 1 goal and 6 assists, Fiala is far off his 2017-18 production. Is it bad luck or poor play? The numbers suggest he is expected to earn .57 goals per 60 minutes. That should be closer to 4 goals total on the season. And, six of this seven points were all primary points. Still, Peter Laviolette moved Fiala down to the fourth line yet again.
The Nashville Predators are 6-3-0 at Bridgestone Arena this year and are looking for their fourth win in a row at home. The Lightning hold a 7-2-1 record on the road, winning their last two games. However, Tampa is only 4-3-1 against the Western Conference this season, while the Predators are 6-0-0 versus the Eastern Conference.
Lineup versus the Lightning
Which team will have the bragging rights for the rest of the season? A win for the Nashville Predators would give them two against the Lightning in the season. No matter what, it will be an exciting game.