For just the third time this season, the Nashville Predators will try to extend a two-game winning streak by getting a win over the Detroit Red Wings.
This is the fourth meeting of the season between the two, with the Predators winning two of those three. And the Predators put together another great team effort on defense to get their most recent win over the Red Wings on Tuesday.
There’s a lot of ground to make up in the division standing for the Predators. They have to keep winning if they’re going to calm some of these trade rumors and make it interesting to get into the top-four later on:
The gameplan shouldn’t be all that complicated for the Predators to handle business against the Red Wings again tonight.
An aggressive approach on the offensive attack
The Red Wings don’t take many chances that will put their defensive resistance in a bad spot. They surround the puck effectively and force teams to really grind out shifts to get high-quality shots.
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For the Predators to manage more than one or two goals tonight, they’re going to need rebound opportunities and forced turnovers on odd man rushes. That’s how they’re going to crack this defensive style that the Red Wings play with.
Looking back at Tuesday’s win, what really got the action going for the Predators was Rocco Grimaldi‘s aggressive skating that drew a penalty. The Predators’ power play is starting to find some success, with Filip Forsberg and Eeli Tovlanen both scoring on the power play.
It’s going to be difficult for the Predators to generate offensive chances at 5-on-5 if they take the conservative approach and don’t take some risks by skating aggressively and crashing the net.
Continue to play disciplined
We were harping on the Predators taking too many penalties in the early goings of the season. The penalty kill remains atrocious at 30th in the NHL in penalty kill percentage.
You know what one remedy is to helping a bad penalty kill? Don’t take penalties, and the Predators are doing much better in this area. In their last three games, the Predators have only given up two power plays, and killed both of them.
In fact, the Predators have had a lot of success at shutting down the Red Wings power play, which isn’t saying too much.
Be that as it may, we’re seeing improvement in not taking bad penalties and it’s giving the Predators a fighting chance to keep the score close even if they’re still struggling to manufacture goals.
Keep building on the chemistry
Ryan Johansen is finally back in the lineup after returning in Tuesday’s win. He was easing back into game action and registered 15:48 of ice time on the team’s third line.
I realize some people want Johansen in the top-six because that’s the kind of big money he’s making and you can’t keep him buried in the bottom-six. But at the same time, we keep criticizing Head Coach John Hynes for shaking up the lines every game.
I’m interested to see if Hynes keeps the lines the same, including keeping Grimaldi on the second line with Matt Duchene and Calle Jarnkrok. I liked how that line looked, and Forsberg and Mikael Granlund definitely have to stay together.
Per Brooks Bratten of the Nashville Predators official website, the lineups are expected to be the same going into tonight’s game, which is encouraging news if you ask me:
Saros has struggled greatly this season, and it hasn’t all be on him. He’s been the victim of some extremely poor luck as well.
Rinne will get the start over Saros as the Predators are taking to conventional approach of riding the hot hand.
As the team hopefully continues to build momentum with another win over a team that some think are “tanking”, the Predators need to get some consistency with their lineup as the surge towards the midway point of the season gets closer.
Unless another bad injury occurs, I want the Predators to stick with a certain lineup for several games in a row and see if something starts to click.
The Nashville Predators are having most of their success in the third period this season, which is great. If they can start playing with some leads in the first and second periods, that will bode well for them to close teams out in the final frame.
Puck drop is slated for 6:30 P.M. CDT from Detroit. You can catch the action on Fox Sports Tennessee regionally, and also on NHL Network if you’re outside the regional viewing area.