It’s been an up and down season so far for the Nashville Predators. They need to start stringing together some wins, with the Minnesota Wild up next.
The Nashville Predators face their first rematch of the young season as the Minnesota Wild comes to Nashville for the second time already this year. The Predators already beat them in their season-opener 5-2.
I’m still not entirely sure how good, or great, this team can be. They’re kind of helter skelter through nine games. They’ve managed a record of 5-3-1, all things considered, and trying to keep pace with the Colorado Avalanche, who seem to be the real deal.
This matchup with the Wild is a perfect chance to string together multiple wins and get out of this up-and-down trend they’re in. It’s not a formula you want to have if you have the expectations that many people have for the Nashville Predators.
For instance, last season the Predators started 13-3, with two separate win streaks of five games. Time to build towards one of those win streaks with a beatable Wild team coming to town.
How are the Wild looking?
The Wild are kind of where we expected them to be heading in. They’re sitting at 3-6 overall with a minus-11 goal differential and a 1-5 record on the road. They do have a current two-game winning streak going, with wins over two solid opponents in the Oilers and Canadiens.
You’re not going to get blown away when looking at the Wild’s roster. It’s very pedestrian and full of veterans past their primes and some middle-of-the-road talent. Brad Hunt is currently leading the team in scoring with a modest six points. The 31-year-old defenseman leading your team in scoring isn’t a good thing considering he has just 45 points in his entire career.
The Wild are also a mess in net right now. Veteran Devan Dubnyk is off to a disastrous start through his first seven starts. He’s got a save percentage that’s hovering near 80, but he has stopped the bleeding a bit lately with wins over Montreal and Edmonton. However, he’ll miss this game due to an injury he sustained in the last game.
That means backup goaltender Alex Stalock will get the nod in net. He’s 0-4-1 all-time against the Predators, but his personal numbers aren’t that bad in those games. Through two starts and four appearances this season, he’s got a save percentage of .941 and a goals against average of 1.64. Can the Predators bring him back to reality a bit?
Two former Predators are on the Wild roster, but we’ll only see one of them Thursday night. Kevin Fiala has been placed on injured reserve in what has been an unfortunate start to his first full season with Minnesota. Ryan Hartman isn’t lighting things up either with just one goal and no assists through nine games.
Please take care of business
I’m sick and tired of seeing the Predators not take care of business against teams they should handle easily. They’re having no problems beating legitimate opponents like Vegas, Washington and Anaheim. However, they’ve put up duds against Los Angeles, Florida and Arizona. Not saying all of those losses are to horrible teams, but the Predators certainly didn’t show up for those or were late to the party.
If the Predators decide to show up late for this one, the Wild will beat them. This is a divisional game and the Wild are looking to shut some critics up. They’re in search of a three-game winning streak and some revenge from a recent loss in this series.
There’s no news on Filip Forsberg other than he’s still considered day-to-day. It looks likely he’ll miss his fourth-straight game. Miikka Salomaki gets the fourth line spot and Kyle Turris moves into Forsberg’s absent slot.
The Predators really need Forsberg back, but they also showed their offense can still erupt without him after pouring six goals on Anaheim last time out. We’ll update this with any news that drops on Forsberg’s status throughout the day.
As for the game prediction, I think this is a spot where the Predators show they can build off of a big win and continue down the right path. Even without Forsberg, there’s no reason the Predators can’t put up three-plus goals here and get a solid performance from either Pekka Rinne or Juuse Saros. This Minnesota lineup isn’t scary offensively at all.
Without knowing the precise projected lineups yet, I’m going with another semi-comfortable win for the Predators. They get this one 4-2 on the back of a great showing in net and a roster that’s just simply much more talented than what Minnesota can throw out. Highlight goals from Kyle Turris and we get a Craig Smith sighting.
Shoot us your predictions and comments on Twitter, Facebook and right here below! Puck drop is 7 PM CDT and will be televised on Fox Sports Tennessee and streamed on the Fox Sports Go app. Time for a winning streak to built.