What should be a well-rested and re-energized Nashville Predators team gets set to meet with another team that’s in a funk, the New Jersey Devils.
Two teams with a combined record of 6-11-3 over their last ten games will meet on Saturday night as the Nashville Predators take on the New Jersey Devils. Two teams who need to build winning streaks to get back into the playoff picture.
The Predators have played just one game in the last six days, which was a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. Hopefully over this first week of December the Predators have been resetting and figuring out how to get back to the way they were playing in October.
As bad as it seems, the Predators do have points in five of their last six. If not for giving up a goal in the last second of regulation to allow the Vegas Golden Knight to get it to overtime, the Predators would have wins in four of their last six. So the Predators do seem to be gradually going back in the right direction.
P.K Subban returns to Nashville
The big story for this game is obviously Subban coming back to Nashville for the first time in a Devils uniform. These two teams made the trade over the offseason and freed up room for the Predators to get Matt Duchene.
Feelings have always seemed to be split on Subban. You either really love him or can’t stand him. Either way, hopefully the Predators fans and players alike will give him the respect and warm welcome he deserves before the game starts.
Subban is having a rough go of it with the Devils so far. He has just five points over his first 28 games in a Devils uniform. He’s minus-12 in plus/minus ratio and has a dismal 3.1 shooting percentage. As of now, it looks like the Predators made the right move if it meant allowing to them to sign Duchene.
The jury is still out on the actual return of the trade itself, which was Jeremy Davies and Steven Santini. Santini has played in two games this season for the Predators on the third defensive pairing, but Davies seems like the player with the higher ceiling to maybe benefit the Predators in the future. They also got a couple second-round draft picks out of the deal, including the drafting of the highly-touted Russian winger Egor Afanasyev.
I wish Subban nothing but the best when he’s not playing the Predators, so tonight I’m hoping his rough season continues and that he stay scoreless on the second Devils power play unit. We don’t need to see another former Predators player torch his former team.
Other game notables
There’s all the trade speculation swirling around Taylor Hall of the Devils and if they’re really going to trade him. He’s a former MVP winner and scored 93 points during that 2017-18 campaign. Since then he’s dealt with injuries and not looked like the same MVP-caliber player.
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However, there’s not discounting that Hall could make a lot of teams much better offensively. Especially the teams who feel they’re just one big piece away from making a deep playoff run, even if Hall ends up just being a rental for them.
As for the Predators, they do have a lot of assets to make a push for Hall. I don’t like the idea of mortgaging the future for such a risky player, but GM David Poile has pulled off some crazy deals in the past. Unless we get Kyle Turris‘ enormous contract off the books, then I don’t see this risk as being worth it.
When it comes to tonight, Hall is a player that can make the Predators pay. He’s on their top line and top power play unit along with Jack Hughes. Hall and Hughes are a deadly combination, no matter how bad the Devils are struggling as a team.
The problem with the Devils is they have no depth to lean on after their top line. Nothing really scares you about this team outside of just a few players. The Predators will also see another former player from last year’s team in Wayne Simmonds.
Finally, the Devils just fired their head coach John Hynes and now are being led by a interim head coach Alain Nasreddine. The team has two losses since the firing of Hynes. Sometimes when someone new takes over it galvanizes a team, so the Predators have to watch out for that.
Can’t take anyone lightly
In all due respect to the Devils, this is a game the Predators should easily leave with a win. The Devils are a mess right now after just firing their head coach and thinking about trading their star player. However, the Predators haven’t looked too much better after a horrible November.
If the Predators are going to get back on track and begin to make up ground in the division,n’t lose games against inferior opponents. This qualifies as one of those opponents.
As for the Predators projected line combinations for tonight, there’s still no Mikael Granlund or Arvidsson due to injuries. That means Daniel Carr is going to be leaned heavily on playing on the second line, while Yakov Trenin is going to get another look as he’ll be on the fourth line.
The line I feel most confident in might be the third line to be perfectly honest. It’s been the most consistent with Nick Bonino and Rocco Grilmaldi playing very well together for much of the season.
Calle Jarnkrok has been excellent no matter where they’ve put him in the lineup. He’s back on the top line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg. I’m very confident in that trio as well. It’s the second line that has me nervous, but hopefully Kyle Turris can continue to show everyone why it was a dumb decision to leave him out of the lineup for seven-straight games.
Prediction and final analysis
I have to keep believing that the Predators are about to string off a nice, healthy winning streak in the near future. There’s no reason why it can’t start tonight against a down-and-out team like the Devils. You have to get two points here.
The Predators should be plenty rested and energized to take care of business tonight. With the absences of Granlund and Arvidsson, these lineup combinations are the best you can hope for and should be able to have success against bad goaltending and a team without a lot of quality depth.
I might kick myself for this later and ask myself why the Predators keep letting me down, but I have them coming out on a mission and winning this game to the tune of 4-2. The Predators aren’t invincible in this matchup and will probably surrender a couple goals, but they’ll have plenty success of their own on offense against the hapless Devils.