As the great Jackie Moon once said, “In the annals of history, people are going to be talking about three things: the discovery of fire, the invention of the submarine, and for the Nashville Predators, the Smashville Mega Bowl!”
Okay, maybe that last part was paraphrased a bit, but make no mistake about it, Predators fans. Saturday night in Smashville will be cranked up to 11 as the Predators face the Dallas Stars.
Ideally, fans will fill every single one of the 33% allowable capacity seats in Bridgestone Arena to give the Predators every advantage you could hope for in what is the undisputable biggest game of the season.
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As we look at the growing rivalry between these fierce competitors, one that has only grown more fierce with the events of the last 24 months, Saturday night is the Predators’ chance to avenge two of the most painful losses in franchise history. I’m talking about round one of the 2019 playoffs and the Winter Classic.
With three days off coming into the matchup, the Predators will be rested, possibly welcoming back a familiar and lethal “stache” to the lineup, and hopefully prepared to secure an incredibly meaningful victory for the franchise and its faithful.
Let’s take a look at the magnitude of this one and get prepared off the ice, as the guys on the roster prepare for the impending battle on it!
Since John Klingberg hit the back of the cage in game six of a disappointing exit for the Predators in the opening round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Stars have seemingly had Nashville’s number in crucial match-ups.
Fast forward a year later to the Predators’ debut in the NHL Winter Classic, and again, the result was the same. Green guys get the W, gold guys get the disappointment.
Saturday’s game gives the Predators a chance to avenge all of it in one fell swoop. These two teams will battle it out for the coveted (maybe not so coveted given the matchup that awaits the fourth place winner) final playoff position in the Central Division.
“Roman, On Your Right”
“Juice” Saros has deservingly been given the most credit for the Predators’ admittedly unexpected resurgence in the battle for the final playoff spot in the Central. However, another key figure in the climb up into the playoff race has been reigning Norris Trophy winner and team Captain Roman Josi.
After a slow start and an injury that kept him sidelined for a few weeks, the Captain has regained his form from last year. Josi has helped reclaim the current lead in points for the Predators and led the way offensively as the organization has always relied on him to do.
As we look ahead to tomorrow night’s contest, the rumors are swirling around the potential return to the lineup of Josi’s power-play point partner Filip Forsberg. After a 17-game absence due to an upper-body injury, Forsberg could be a welcome reinforcement on the power play.
Hopefully, we will be hearing the mustachioed Forsberg telling Josi, “Roman, on your right!” (Avengers fans rejoice) during critical power-plays that could greatly help the Predators’ chances to earn the win.
If all goes according to plan, Nashville’s entire first power-play unit will be reassembled and resuming operations at the clip they were achieving before losing both Tolvanen and Forsberg to the IR.
Only If You Want It, Nashville Predators
Will, discipline, structure, and above all, pride in the work that has gotten the Predators to this point will be their key calling cards. The Predators need to want to win more than the Stars if they strive to get into the post-season dance at the end of this incredibly exhilarating yet patience-testing year.
What better way for the Predators to cap off their season than by exacting revenge on a budding rival in the Stars. While the result of this game doesn’t clinch a spot in the playoffs for the Predators, it will go a long way to warding off these super pesky Stars.
A win will also bolster their hopes of earning the spot they’ve worked so hard for since this run began a couple of months ago.
I believe I speak for all Nashville Predators fans when I say I cannot wait for the puck to drop on this game. Boys, let’s claim a Mega Bowl.
Say it with me, Predators fans, “FOURTH PLACE! FOURTH PLACE!”.