What an opponent to come back to out of the NHL All-Star break for the Nashville Predators as they’ll take on the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.
This will be the second meeting of the season against the Stars, with the Predators winning 4-2 on November 10 thanks to a balanced scoring attack and 25 saves from Juuse Saros.
The Stars are one of the hardest teams to figures out in the entire league. They’re likely much better than whay their averages record indicates, and they play grind-it-out hockey similar to what the Predators play with.
Nashville Predators are as close to 100 percent as you can ask for
This far into the season and the Nashville Predators are about as fully healthy as you can expect from top to bottom. They have their full complement of players available for this one, with the exception of a day-to-day injury designation for Matt Benning who hasn’t played snce January 27.
So the injury excuse is off the table because Predators are at full strength and have been playing high end hockey for the majority of this season.
Forsberg has become that weapon that can go out and change the complexion of a game entirely just with his power moves and ability to draw the defense in on him, which opens things up for his linemates.
Saros is coming off some much-needed rest from the All-Star break, even though he did compete in the All-Star Game 3-on-3 tournament and Skills Competition.
A big topic of conversation arising is if Saros needs more rest down the stretch, but as of now he should be fully refreshed and ready to push this team back to the playoffs once again. A lighter February schedule should give him more chances for rest between games.
The Predators are also starting to become a very quality team on special teams. They’re up to 11th in the NHL in penalty kill percentage, while also maintaining their top-10 power play rating at seventh in the NHL.
I’ve really liked how the defensive depth has come around for this Predators team, including the stready improvement of Philippe Myers. As commendable as Benning has been this season, I’m actually more inclined to see Myers get more starts.
No love lost for the Dallas Stars
It’s our old foe and nemesis, the Dallas Stars. A team that’s been a thorn in the side of the Predators since that dismal 2019 first round of the playoffs when they ran the favorite Predators out early from the postseason.
The Stars just play a brusing style of hockey, but they’ve struggled defensively this year more so than recent years when that was their top strength. They’re 20th in the NHL in goals against per game, giving up right around three goals on average.
This feels like a matchup that’s going to be dominated by special teams and goaltending. We’re going to see a more desperate Stars team that knows they can’t afford anymore hiccups to their season. They’ve got a lot of ground to make up in the division down the stretch.
We know the Predators are likely going to take their fair share of penalties as well, so keeping that penalty kill in top shape will be vital as the Stars also have a top-ten power play.
Not to mention the Stars have their own fair share of lethal goal scorers, including the trusted veteran Joe Pavelski, who is having an outstanding season at age 37. He’s got 19 goals and 48 points.
You can call the Stars a little top heavy with not as much depth to lean on as the Predators might have, but their roster is still capable of beating anyone on any given night. They’re no team to scoff at and it wouldn’t surprise me too much if they sneak into the playoffs and go on another run.
This is a tough one to come back to out of the long break, and the Stars might very well jump all over the Predators early and get a lead. However, I never count this Predators team out anymore when coming from behind.
Give me a slobber knocker of a game with plenty of extra curricular activity, some power play goals from both teams, and which goaltender gets locked in for crunch time in the third period.
I’ll take the Predators in overtime 3-2, but my confidence level in that prediction is pretty low. The Stars scare me as a team that’s about to go on a run in the second half of the season. Much better than their record.