Nashville Predators Wrap up their Grueling Road Trip at Winnipeg Jets

Mar 18, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Yakov Trenin (13) skates with the puck against Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo (2) during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Yakov Trenin (13) skates with the puck against Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo (2) during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

This five-game Western road swing of almost 5,000 travel miles has really taken its toll on the evolving Nashville Predators, who are 1-3-0 on the trip.

The Predators cap things off with their first divisional matchup of the season. A tilt with the Winnipeg Jets, who have exceeded preseason expectations and just two points out of first place behind the Colorado Avalanche.

This is a “get right” game for the Nashville Predators after turning in probably their worst overall performance in their first 12 games by losing 4-2 to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. Even Head Coach Andrew Brunette didn’t mince words in his postgame comments.

"“I think of all of our games this year, this is the first game that I walked away really disappointed in our group. I thought it was very flat. It wasn’t anywhere near as good as we can play.”- Andrew Brunette tells the Predators Official Website."

You’re going to have games like this during the course of an 82-game season. The important measuring stick for the Predators is how do they respond tonight against the Winnipeg Jets. You cannot let this carry over into consecutive games and find yourself with a losing streak that gets out of control.

Let’s get to our matchup keys, players to watch and game notes for Nashville Predators at Winnipeg Jets.

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Matchup Keys: Nashville Predators @ Winnipeg Jets

It’s the first division game for the Nashville Predators of 2023-24, and it’s going to take a strong effort of creating high danger chances on the Winnipeg goaltender.

Per DailyFaceoff, backup goalie Laurent Brossoit is the likely starter tonight for Winnipeg in place of Connor Hellebuyck. It would be Brossoit’s third start of the season, while Hellebuyck has been less than his stellar self with a save percentage below 90.

Does the curse live on of Nashville making backup goalies look like Vezina Trophy caliber superstars? Brossoit hasn’t faced Nashville since March 1, 2019 in a game where he got the win on 35 saves.

Nashville mustered up just 18 shots on goal and nine high danger chances, while Calgary put 39 shots on Juuse Saros and got 16 high danger chances. A repeat performance of that tonight against Winnipeg will probably result in an even more lopsided final score.

Scoring hasn’t been an issue for the Jets so far. They’re 10th in the NHL in goals per game at 3.42, while the Predators sit at 22nd and still struggling to finish on their chances.

Both teams have struggled mightily on the penalty kill, with the Jets at 29th and the Predators at 30th. If we see a lot of power plays, which one can feast in this area on the other team’s weakness? That’s the major key I have circled going into this matchup.

Players to Watch: Predators @ Jets

The Jets have some balanced scoring up top, with four players already reaching double digit point. Unsurprisingly Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele lead the team with 12 points each, with Connor already up to eight goals.

Former Predator Nino Niederreiter is having himself a great start to his 13th NHL season with nine points in 12 games while also being a solid two-way player and veteran presence.

The Predators will look to get Filip Forsberg and Ryan O’Reilly more heavily involved after both star players were kept as non-factors against the Flames on Tuesday. Whenever these two are kept from making impacts, it really hampers the Predators’ offensive capabilities.

Both teams have quality depth throughout their forward cores. Kiefer Sherwood and Michael McCarron got Nashville’s goals on Tuesday, and Liam Foudy tallied his second assist in a Predators uniform.

Saros was under fire the entire game against the Flames, and held things together up until deep into the 2nd period. Then the Flames were able to finally break through, and Saros let one puck in particular get past him when he should’ve stopped it with the pads.

Whether it’s Saros or Kevin Lankinen tonight in Winnipeg, the Predators should have the goaltending edge with Hellebuyck not expected to start and Brossoit in.

Finally, let’s see if Philip Tomasino gets back into the starting lineup. I’ve been quite baffled to see him be a healthy scratch time and time again, but the coaching staff really seems to prefer Foudy over Tomasino.

Predators Have Two Options on the Table for Philip Tomasino. light. Related Story

Other Game Notes

Luke Evangelista has eight points and is right in the thick of a crowded NHL rookie race. He scored a goal in a March 8, 2023 meeting against the Jets in what ended up being an overtime loss for the Predators.

The Predators loss three of four matchups against the Jets last season, two of them coming in overtime. All four games were low-scoring, with the Predators lone win coming in a 2-1 final score, with Tanner Jeannot and Cody Glass tallying the goals and Saros making 32 saves.

Forsberg had a four-game point streak snapped on Tuesday against Calgary. He’s got 12 points, 10 being assists, on the season.

The Central Division is pretty jammed up right now. The Predators sit six points behind the division leading Avalanche, and with a win over the Jets, they can leap frog the St.Louis Blues and tie with the Minnesota Wild.