Nashville Predators Get a Tough Test Against Anaheim Ducks

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Members of the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators fight during the second period at Honda Center on March 12, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Members of the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators fight during the second period at Honda Center on March 12, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images) /

There’s no shortage of hatred between the Nashville Predators and the Anaheim Ducks. They square off for the first time this season tonight.

The Nashville Predators need to find the win column again. They’ve kind of been sputtering along in three of their last four games. They have one impressive win over Vegas, but some ugly losses to less talented teams.

Last time out was Saturday when the Predators fell behind 2-0 to the Florida Panthers, but nearly completed the comeback. They eventually lost in the shootout. Kyle Turris continued his  great start to season with his third goal, trying it to get it to overtime.

There are some disturbing trends with the Predators right now that they need to fix. Their penalty kill is second-worst in the league, with only the Winnipeg Jets being worse. This area is usually a strength of the Predators, but clearly something isn’t right over the first eight games of this season. They’re also getting off to slow starts in games and having to make comebacks.

Maybe this is the game for them to blank the opposing team’s power play and strike first. The Ducks have one of the worst power plays in the league. They’ve only connected on less than five percent of their power play attempts. Even with those power play struggles, they’re still 6-3 and playing well.

Ducks players to watch for

The Ducks have a pretty deep roster and can beat you with a lot of different guys. Jakob Silfverberg is leading the team in points with eight, including five goals. Joining him on the Ducks’ second line is Rickard Rakell, making their second line very dangerous. Rakell is second on the team in points with seven.

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We all have come to know Ryan Getzlaf, whose most productive days are well behind him. He’s still a player who you can’t lose tabs on. He scored in both wins the Ducks had over the Predators last season. He’s their top line center and can still burn you despite being well past his prime.

The Ducks are very solid in net with John Gibson being their primary starter. He’s giving up less than two goals per game over his seven starts. He has been in net for all three of the losses the Ducks have had and he’s lost three of his last four starts. This might be a spot for backup goaltender Ryan Miller to get the start. He’s saved 48 of 51 shots in his two starts. Either way, the Ducks look solid in net no matter who goes on Tuesday night.

Predators need Forsberg back

It’s uncertain if Filip Forsberg will return to the lineup for this one. He didn’t skate yesterday morning, and I’m sure the Predators are being super cautious about rushing him back. He took a brutal hit from Vegas’ Mark Stone last week. His absence has broken up the second line featuring Matt Duchene, and the offense hasn’t looked the same. It’s been much more ordinary., and sometimes non-existent.

If Forsberg misses his third-straight game, it’s going to give Turris another opportunity to move up the lineup. He’s already up to three goals and three assists, and his possession numbers are solid as well. He’s skating with more energy and aggression it seems, but he’s also no Forsberg.

In today’s morning skate, Forsberg was a non-participant according to Adam Vingan. It doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not playing, but it again doesn’t seem likely. They’re taking the cautious approach. Last thing we need is for him to is double-digit games:

Duchene has cooled off a bit since blazing out of the gate. We need a big showing from him tonight. He has points in six of the eight games this season. I like him to have a big impact tonight playing alongside Mikael Granlund and Turris. The Ducks are in the middle of the pack when it comes to killing off penalties, and the Predators power play just get plenty of opportunities.

Further down the Predators lineup, it looks like Miikka Salomaki is going to get another shot on the fourth line. That spot has been a revolving door all season.

Who has the edge?

This is a hard game to predict. My biggest question is if the Ducks are for real after this solid start. They’re coming off a 2-1 loss to the Calgary Flames, but overall their roster is pretty balanced. Predators and Ducks usually get chippy no matter when they’re playing in the regular season. Expect nothing to change tonight.

The Predators have only scored two goals in each of their past two games, both ending in losses and without Forsberg. If he misses again, then this game becomes a toss-up for me. Perhaps the Predators can finally get something cooking offensively even without Forsberg. However, the Ducks give up the least amount of goals per game at 1.78 so far this season.

This is going to be another low-scoring, physical game.  I don’t see the Predators erupting for four-plus goals tonight, which means they’re going to have to play very well defensively. The Ducks aren’t too scary offensively, so I do think the Predators can hold them to under three goals. Question is who’s the first to score three goals? Whoever that is wins this game. I’m going with the Predators 3-2, with Viktor Arvidsson scoring the game-winner.

2. 105. 3. 151. Prediction

Puck drop from Bridgestone Arena is 7 PM CDT on Fox Sports Tennessee. Time to go hunting on a Tuesday night and bring home some duck dinner.