In what has already been a wild season for the Nashville Predators, now they’re just a few hours away from their first ever Winter Classic.
A game like this on the national stage can be a turning point to a team’s season like the Nashville Predators. A team that has all of the talent to make a deep playoff run, but hasn’t been able to put all the pieces together.
Today marks another franchise milestone for the Nashville Predators as they’ve been in the NHL for just over two decades. The past five years in particular have been filled with great moments. Winning at the Cotton Bowl to beat the Dallas Stars would mark another one, and get 2020 off to a tremendous start.
As for the game itself, the Predators are seeking some serious revenge against a Stars team that owns them as of late. They got embarrassed less than a month ago at home to the Stars, and also got eliminated in six games to the Stars in the playoffs last season.
Beating Dallas in their backyard at the Winter Classic in front of all of the amazing traveling Predators fans would be another massive moment for this franchise. I’ve heard word of over 20,000 Predators fans expected to be at the Cotton Bowl, which is incredible if it ends up being an accurate number.
The NHL also stated that this is the most tickets they’ve ever seen purchased by the away team’s fans for a Winter Classic, per Sean Shapiro who covers the Stars for The Athletic:
The critics and people who like to be negative all of the time are going to hate this game because it’s not “traditional”. That argument simply has no base if you’re someone who wants to see hockey grow to the more casual fans.
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This game is featuring two first-timers to the Winter Classic and two division rivals who just happened to play in the playoffs last season. It’s not a long-time rivalry, but it is one that’s gradually brewing into a big one.
I loved the idea all the way from when it was first announced because it features two Southern franchises that have plenty of great talent on their rosters to put up a good game.
As for what the Predators are coming with in their projected lineup, their line combinations look to be mostly back to normal. You should see Calle Jarnkrok back on the top line with Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen.
The very productive third line will have Nick Bonino, Rocco Grimaldi and Craig Smith. Good to see this trio remaining intact. You can even put up a solid argument that aside from Roman Josi, Bonino has been the MVP of the team so far.
I’m liking these projected lines because they’re getting back to the basics. These are the best lines to roll out when the team is fully healthy. You can find things to nitpick, like Austin Watson remaining in the lineup, but it’s mostly the best the Predators can roll out. And it should be good enough if the team plays up to their potential and the coaching delivers on their end.
This can be the turning point
Everyone is panicking or just fed up over the inconsistency of the Predators this season, but there’s still over a half a season to play. Winning today might just count the same as any other ordinary win, but it can also create some big momentum going forward for the team’s psyche.
There’s been no sugarcoating how bad the goaltending has been, or the defense playing in front of that erratic goaltending. Both have to get better for each other, otherwise we’re going to continue to see this rollercoaster season continue.
The Predators only have four home games in January, and maybe that’s a good thing. They have games in hand over their counterparts they’re trying to catch for a playoff spot, and are four points behind the final wildcard spot.
This is not an insurmountable mountain to climb. It may seem like it, but it really isn’t. We just have to hope that something starts to click, and winning on the Winter Classic stage would be huge to get back on track and change these negative vibes into positive ones.
As much as I love
, and always will,
needs to be getting the majority of the starts, Aside from back-to-backs, it needs to be Saros’ show to run in net. He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been better when he comes in as the game’s starter and not just in relief.
Puck drop is 1 P.M. from the Cotton Bowl and will be televised nationally on NBC. If you’re not already in Dallas to witness this milestone game for the Predators, then get to a television or your favorite Predators watch location and let’s support this team full of great guys.