With the NHL’s most productive offense, the Nashville Predators remain out West as they get ready for the Arizona Coyotes.
This could be the toughest defensive team the Nashville Predators have faced as the Arizona Coyotes allow the third-least amount of goals per game at 1.8. The Predators give up on average nearly four goals per game on their end.
We have a clash here of two teams who do different things very well. The Coyotes clamp down on defense and make things ugly at times. The Predators like to push the attack take risks and force the other team into penalties.
The Coyotes really stymied the Predators’ offense last season in their two wins in the season series. They shutout the Predators 3-0 to close out November, and beat the Predators 2-1 before that. The Predators did get some revenge later in the season, winning 5-2 at home.
Who stands out for Arizona?
The Predators are going to have to figure out how to crack goaltender Darcy Kuemper. He has two losses, but it’s not because of his personal play. He has an astounding save percentage of .955 and a goals against average of 1.52. If he can just get a little goal support, he’s going to start piling up the wins.
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Kuemper’s last two starts saw him make 38 saves against Vegas for the win and 40 saves against Winnipeg for another win. His numbers from last season weren’t too shabby either with five shutouts and a goals against average of 2.33. The Predators offense might be in store for the first game scoring less than three goals.
Offensively the Coyotes don’t have a ton of firepower. The Predators just held Vegas to two goals on Tuesday night, and should have no trouble repeating that effort against an Arizona team that doesn’t scare you offensively. They do have Phil Kessel, who has yet to register a goal yet this season with his new team after scoring 27 goals last season with Pittsburgh.
Clayton Keller is their top line center and is a rising star in the league. He hasn’t scored a goal yet this season, like much of the Arizona Coyotes roster, but has been controlling the puck well with a Corsi percentage of 58.3, well above his career percentage. The top line doesn’t scare, but they are showing improvement and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Why the Predators should win
On paper this is a game the Predators should win pretty easily. However, we know that doesn’t usually happen in the NHL. That was already proven in the two losses the Predators already have this season against lesser opponents. This game is no different, although Arizona is a fringe playoff contender in my book.
This seems like a good spot to start Juuse Saros in net. He really needs to build his confidence back up after opening up the season with both of the Predators’ losses and giving up over five goals per game. Going up against Arizona’s mild offense would be a good spot for that. Even if Saros doesn’t go, we know what Pekka Rinne will bring as he’s off to a great start to 2019-20. Eithet goaltender should have no problems tonight.
It looks like Filip Forsberg is going to likely miss this game, per Adam Vingan and the projected lines:
He took a nasty hit from Mark Stone against Vegas on Tuesday night. I’m leaning towards him not suiting up for this one, but we’ll have to wait and see. If he can’t go, it looks like Daniel Carr is going to get another opportunity to show his value. He was recently put on waivers and cleared. That second line is an interesting one and won’t be nearly as dangerous with Forsberg.
Then you have the ongoing trade rumors swirling around Kyle Turris. He’s really playing well in his new role in the bottom six. He registered a goal and an assist in the win over Vegas on Tuesday. Here’s the segment from TSN Hockey that fired up this trade rumor:
My opinion is Turris isn’t going anywhere this season. His value is too low for it to make sense for the Predators. He’s playing with a newfound energy that will hopefully lead to a big bounce-back season for him that will increase his value on the trade market.
I’m going with the Predators to win fairly easy by a score of 3-1. This game’s pace is going to look a lot different than what it did Tuesday night against Vegas. There’s not going to be much room to operate on the ice, but I do think the Predators will find a way past Kuemper a few times. I don’t see the Coyotes having a big offensive outburst against Rinne or Saros.
Puck drop is scheduled for 9 P.M. CDT and will be televised on Fox Sports Tennessee. It will also be broadcast on 102.5 The Game and able to be live streamed on the Fox Sports Go app.