It's hard to completely trust the Nashville Predators because they tend to have these random games where they don't show up at all, and this one against the Anaheim Ducks just gives me a bad feeling.
The Ducks are just a hot mess right now, but they sent shockwaves through the NHL world on Monday by landing a massive trade for Cutter Gauthier, who was the fifth overall pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2022.
Gauthier is currently playing collegiately for Boston College, and in return the Ducks sent defenseman Jamie Drysdale and a 2025 second-round pick to the Flyers.
Drysdale was the sixth-overall pick in 2020 by the Ducks and had played in 10 games this season and recorded an assist on Sunday for the Ducks. With the young defenseman now Philly bound, the Ducks have a very thin and unproven defensive corps outside of Cam Fowler up top and Radko Gudkas.
Ducks Lack Offensive Weapons, Also Give Up a lot of Goals
The Ducks surrender 3.33 goals per game, which is ninth-most in the NHL. The Predators are slightly better, giving up 3.13 goals per game which is 18th in the NHL.
The Predators have surprisingly been pretty mediocre at home this season with only a 12-10-0 record. They've lost four of their last five at home and took a 3-2 loss at home to the Ducks on November 14, a game the Predators led 2-0 in the first period.
The starting lineup for the Predators is a little different from that meeting nearly two months ago. Liam Foudy played in that game and he has since been waived and sent down to Milwaukee, while Tyson Barrie has since asked for a trade and is rarely playing.
Marc Del Gaizo also played in the first meeting against the Ducks, and he is now back with Milwaukee and has been for a while. Since then, the Ducks have faded badly, while the Predators have remained relevant in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Ducks don't have a single player to reach 30 points yet, while the Predators have four players at 30-plus points. The leading scorer for the Ducks is Frank Vatrano with 28 points, followed by Mason McTavish with 26.
Listen, you can't sleep on the Ducks however. They have young talent and speed, which makes this game nothing to gloss over if you're the Predators and their tendency to have critical defensive breakdowns.
Preds Have to Clean Up their Turnovers, Treat this Like Dallas
The Predators are one of the worst teams in the NHL at giving the puck away, with 370 giveaways ranking second-highest in the NHL. Turning the puck over will give easy looks to a Ducks team that should have a hard time going the length of the ice and getting situated at 5-on-5.
The Ducks rank middle of the road in both power play and penalty kill. Their biggest weakness is clearly a lack of pure goal scorers. They average just 2.46 goals per game.
The goalie matchup is unclear as of this writing, but you would expect the Predators to turn back to Juuse Saros after a decent break and Kevin Lankinen starting the last game at Dallas on Saturday.
The Ducks could go with either the veteran John Gibson or the 23-year-old up and comer Lukáš Dostál. Both have had moderate save percentages at around 90 percent, but neither have been good enough to overcome the scoring woes for the Ducks.
In the first meeting, Gibson got the start vs. Nashville and played well with 28 saves on 30 shots faced. Dostál has never faced the Predators.
If the Predators can grab the win over the Ducks on Tuesday, they'll be at 47 points and just four points behind the Stars for third place in the Central Division. Last season at this point, the Predators were 19-16-6 for 44 points.