After enjoying the first four games of the new season at home, the Nashville Predators prepare for a road test in Los Angeles.
It’s kind of unprecedented to see a team start a new season with four-straight home games, but that’s what the Nashville Predators have had. They went 3-1 in those games, and have brought plenty of excitement and optimism to the fans.
Now the first road test of the season will come against the Los Angeles Kings, a team that struggled last season. They’re 1-2 so far this season, and have given up 17 goals in those games. Not a good way to reverse their bad fortunes.
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The Predators, on the other hand, have been very hot offensively. They’re having no trouble finding the back of the net. The Kings might be the perfect team to exploit as the Predators looks to stay hot offensively and continue their solid start to 2019-20.
Forsberg and Duchene a perfect match
A big storyline to the young season is the chemistry being built between Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg. They’re a fine-tuned, offensive machine over these first four games. When watching them, it seems like they’ve been playing together for years.
Forsberg set a new franchise record by scoring a goal in four-straight games to open a new season. That’s probably not the last offensive franchise record set this season. Duchene has seven assists through four games, and just tallied his first goal with the Predators this past game against the Capitals.
The top line, or JoFA line, seems like a distant memory now that Forsberg and Duchene are playing so well together. It’s fair to say that these two, along with some other great offensive players, are going to make this Predators team a team that can always make up a multi-goal deficit. Don’t ever count this team out. It will be fun to see if Forsberg can keep his goal streak going today against a leaky Kings defense, and if Duchene can keep piling on the assists.
Who else stands out
For the Kings, one of their obvious top players is center Anze Kopitar. You can’t every sleep on the 32-year-old veteran no matter how bad the Kings may be. He already has five points through the team’s first three games. If there’s one player who can change the complexion of the game for the Kings, it’s Kopitar.
This is also the first home game of the new season for the Kings. Expect a fun, rowdy L.A. crowd to welcome their team home. We’ll have to see how the Predators react to playing on the road for the first time. The Kings have fallen on hard times recently, but fans always have hope to open a season.
Looking at the Predators, many of their question marks revolved around their third defensive pairing and the shuffling of their top line and fourth line. The projected lineup from the Predators website has Calle Jarnkrok once again on the top line with Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson. This move yielded positive results in the 6-5 win over the Capitals on Thursday.
Nothing appears to be changing on the second and third lines, and the fourth line will once again feature Daniel Carr. He got his first Predators action in the last game as well. So it appears Peter Laviolette is opting to stick with the lineup that just got him a huge win over the Capitals that brought a lot of offensive fireworks.
There is one new roster change for this game, and that’s shifting Dan Hamhuis to the third pairing over Matt Irwin. This move should be a no-brainer pretty much every game. Hamhuis isn’t flashy, but he’s smart and can be relied upon better than Irwin at this point.
Who has the edge
Obviously the Predators are the vastly superior team on paper. That doesn’t always mean a lock for a win. In goal for the Kings, the storied veteran Jonathan Quick has had a horrendous start to his season. In two starts, he has a goals against average of over seven goals per game. Obviously that number will go down with a larger sample size, but that’s wild to see.
This game screams for another great offensive outburst for the Predators. It will be interesting to see what the Kings decide to do in net. I’d expect Quick to get the start to find his groove again, but maybe they opt to go with Jack Campbell, who stopped 29 of 32 shots in a win over Calgary earlier this week.
For the Predators, this seems like a good spot to start Juuse Saros. Pekka Rinne has started the last two games, and I’m leaning towards the notion that these two guys split the starts this season. I’d like to see Saros go in this one, but either way the Predators have the clear edge in this department.
This could easily be a trap game for the Predators. The Kings are at home, will be playing with a lot of energy and have that underdog mentality. We’ve seen the Predators come out flat before, and it’s a weird start time at 5 P.M. CDT. The Predators should easily cruise to a win, but they could also conceivably come out flat and spot the Kings too many goals early on.
My game prediction has the Predators winning in comeback fashion once again, 4-3 in overtime. Duchene adds another goal to his stat line, but I like game MVP to go to Kyle Turris as he continues his comeback season. A goal and an assist for No.8. He just looks so much more comfortable out there in his new role in the bottom six.