Nashville Predators: Winter Classic Jerseys Return Against Buffalo

It’s time for some redemption for the Winter Classic jerseys as the Nashville Predators will rock them out against the Buffalo Sabres tonight.

This was pretty exciting when I saw the news that the Nashville Predators would wear their Winter Classic sweaters again for another game. The first time out didn’t go all that well against the Dallas Stars in front of over 80,000 people at the Cotton Bowl so let’s give Bridgestone Arena a try.

As for the game itself, the Predators get a chance at some revenge after losing the Sabres earlier in the season back in December in a game that could’ve gone either way.

There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that the Predators’ window for making the playoffs is starting to swiftly close if they don’t build some sort of a winning streak soon. They’re only six points out, but there’s a lot of teams fighting for that last spot.

Lineup decisions

The Predators decided to send back to Milwaukee a few players since the last game, which was a loss to the last-place Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night. Yakov Trenin is the surprising one as his play has been superb over the 13 games he’s appeared in this season.

Defensmen Alexandre Carrier and Jarred Tinordi were also reassigned back to Milwaukee, leaving room for Matt Irwin, Dan Hamhuis and Yannick Weber to get back into the fold. With the All-Star break coming up for the Predators, hopefully we’ll see at least Trenin come back after the break.

The experiment of having Viktor Arvidsson and Rocco Grimaldi on the same line looks like it will continue tonight. Not sure if this one will last once Colton Sissons finally returns to the lineup, which will hopefully be after the break.

The lineup has been changed so much already this season, that it’s hard to have strong feelings about any of them anymore.

Go to the Predators official website to see the full projected lineup for tonight against Buffalo, who has won three-straight games and also in a similar spot as the Predators trying to get back into the Eastern Conference wildcard race.

The big guys need to step up

This team needs its veterans and proven stars to step up and carry it right now. It’s great that the team is getting help from its depth and players from the AHL, but sooner or later the veterans needs to start taking over games.

Matt Duchene, Mikael Granlund and Filip Forsberg are a critical line to the success of the Predators. This trio has to start taking control of games and playing better. They’re not getting it done to the level they should be capable of as a unit.

Then there’s the goaltending that has been a disaster all season, and for many different reasons that’s not all on Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros. Either way you look at it, these two have to start raising their high-danger save percentages and put together stronger games.

Finally, are we ever going to see the penalty kill improve? This is the biggest issue this team faces, and it’s making all of the other problem areas like goaltending even worse than it really is. I’m not confident in the slightest that this area is going to be remedied this season.

With that said, the Predators are going to have to start winning games with four or five goals being scored. They can’t win many games with their poor defense and goaltending by just scoring two or three goals. Sad to say, but true on most occasions.

I wouldn’t be overly surprised if the Predators figure out a way to erupt for some goals tonight and get this win. The question is can they string that into a winning streak when they come out of the All-Star break, and when Ryan Ellis and Sissons return from injured reserve.

Related Story: Predators Need a Big Roster Shakeup, and They Need it Now

The season isn’t over yet, but the fat lady is preparing her lungs.