The Nashville Predators have been cruising as of late with points in seven of their last eight games. They have the Buffalo Sabres up next.
Next on the schedule for the Nashville Predators features a matchup with the Buffalo Sabres, a team that’s narrowly in the Eastern Conference playoff picture right now with 36 points.
Sabres have no shortage of offensive firepower, led by Jack Eichel who has 20 goals this season. He’s coming off a two-goal performance in the Sabres’ win over the Blues in their most recent game.
Both teams struggled on the penalty kill as they’re near the bottom of the league in penalty kill percentage. The Predators are slightly better and have been showing modest improvement in this area.
The defense for the Predators has its work cut out for them in this one. The Sabres have scores three or more goals in six of their last seven games. They also have a current four-game point streak at home.
Why the Predators are playing better
Everything seems to be coming back together for the Predators recently now that they’re getting more reliable goaltending to go along with their offense that continues to be very productive. The Predators are currently sixth in the NHL in goals per game at 3.34.
Matt Duchene commented on why the Predators offense and the team as a whole is playing much better recently, per the Brooks Bratten of the Predators official website:
"“I still think there’s times where we can score more goals, and that’s just finishing opportunities, but there’s a lot of good things. I think we’re getting great goaltending, and everything seems to be feeling pretty good.”"
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Their latest win was over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night with a 3-1 final score. Juuse Saros was solid in that game to help the Predators keep it scoreless through the first two periods. He also stopped a penalty shot in Tuesday’s game.
With the exception of missing the injured Viktor Arvidsson, the Predators are at full strength in terms of injuries. They have their toughest test they’ve had on the schedule in recent memory tonight against the Sabres.
Nick Bonino now leads the Predators in goals with 12, and Filip Forsberg and Calle Jarnkrok are close behind with 11 each. Who would’ve thought Bonino would be leading the team in goals in mid-December going into the season?
Jarnkrok is perhaps having one of the best seasons of his career as he’s tied for second on the team in points with 21. Only Roman Josi has more points on the team with 26 points.
Here’s a full look at the Predators projected lineup for tonight:
Nice to see Kyle Turris back firmly in the lineup. Not sure why it took as long as it did to figure out that he’s not doing this team any good by being a healthy scratch.
Yannick Weber is back on the third defensive pairing, and Matt Irwin will sit this one out. Other than that, it looks like we’re finally starting to see the line combinations remain pretty consistent from game to game.
Puck drop is 6 P.M. CDT and will be televised on Fox Sports Tennessee. Radio broadcast will be on 102.5 The Game in Nashville.