So far this season, the Nashville Predators have not been able to win three games in a row. Tonight, they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs to put an end to that factoid. It won't be an easy feat, as the Leafs have been lights-out at the Air Canada Centre, posting a sterling record of 8-2-0.
The Predators should be gaining confidence after their most recent wins, and if there is ever a time to put together their longest win streak of the season, now is it.
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|Nashville Predators||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|5-on-5 Close SF/60||29.1||14th||25.8||29th|
|5-on-5 Close SA/60||29.7||15th||34.5||28th|
|5-on-5 Close Save %||.919||16th||.945||4th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.33||21st||3.33||21st|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.48||15th||3.86||24th|
The Toronto Maple Leafs
This is the second of two meetings between these two clubs this year, and the first time the Predators have been in Toronto since November of 2010. Last time out, the Predators were embarrassed on home ice to a tune of 4-0. Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk led the way in the game, and both still sit on top of the team's scoring stats. Kessel is the only Leaf who has broken 20 points, and van Riemsdyk is tied with Mason Raymond with 16.
|2013 - Phil Kessel||21||12||9||21||5||15||4||0||3||77||15.6|
Toronto is sporting a modest two-game win streak against the Sabres and Islanders. Although they have dropped their previous four road games, they have won their last five home games. They have been buoyed by the stellar play from both Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer. Bernier has five more starts, but they both deserve credit for keeping their team in the picture. Especially considering Toronto is allowing a league-worst 39.5 shots against a game, while only mustering 26.5 shots themselves. In fact, they are only shooting slightly better than New Jersey and Buffalo.
UPDATE: According to media reports out of Toronto, Bernier will indeed get the start tonight. In his career vs. Nashville, he has a record of 8-1-0 with two shutouts, including one earlier this season at Bridgestone Arena.
The Nashville Predators
Inconsistency may still be the theme for this team, but they have worked hard the past two games to try and shake that title. While scoring a touchdown against Chicago wasn't something that was likely to keep happening, the suffocating play against the Red Wings has been what we've come to expect from this team. It may not be as fun to watch, but who'd argue about back-to-back wins over those two teams in particular?
I still don't think rookie Marek Mazanec is the longterm answer between the pipes, but as of right now he has my attention. Coming off his first career shutout, he is certainly the only real option at this point. I just hope people will cut him some slack if he starts to falter. But hey, against one of the worst possession teams in the league, he may not even have to break a sweat. Someone should get that kid a magazine or something to put next to his water bottle for when he gets bored.
|2013 - Marek Mazanec||5||269||2||2||0||11||2.45||150||139||.927||1|
UPDATE: Per Josh Cooper on Twitter, Mazanec does get the start tonight, while Ekholm & Nystrom will remain scratched.
Tonight is another Sports South game, and it comes to you at the (probably) convenient time of 6 p.m. CST.
More from On the Forecheck:
- Join the OTF Virtual Food Drive, Benefitting Second Harvest of Middle Tennessee!
- Wednesday's Dump & Chase: We're Going Streaking!
- Nashville Predators 2, Detroit Red Wings 0: Marek Mazanec Earns 1st NHL Shutout
- Nashville Predators @ Detroit Red Wings Preview: Ye Olde Central
- A Tale of Two Teams: As the Season Gets Older, Predators Struggling to Find Their Way