The Predators continue their brief tour of the Great White North, as they take on a Norris stealer and one of the hottest goalies in the league. Given how Nashville was still scoring goals on Toronto even after the final horn sounded, the team should be more than amped for another Canadian showdown.
The Ottawa Senators
Ontario's other team is moving merrily along this season, hoping they'll be just average enough (and other teams just bad enough) to squeak into the playoffs. Other than their penalty kill, (10th in the league) Ottawa is just about as middle-of-the-pack as you can get in every statistical category. They don't score a lot of goals, but they also don't allow as many as some other teams do, either.
Clark MacArthur is currently pacing the team with 13 points, followed very closely by Shea Weber's not-quite nemesis Erik Karlsson, who has 12 on the season. Their offense isn't remarkably prolific, but guys like Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan can burn you in a second if you let them. You may also want to keep an extra eye on #68, Mark Howard. The 24-year-old is pumping 13.21 shots/60 toward opposing goalies, which is by far the most on the team. He's getting rewarded for it as well, with seven goals already this year.
Speaking of goalies, Craig Anderson is playing out of his mind this year. He's third in the league with a .935 SV%. As long as you forget about some of his brain-farts, you could make a case that he's been the team's MVP so far. If Rinne starts, we could see two net minders with superhuman stats squaring off, meaning the game will of course have about 1,000 goals scored on each side. Because hockey.
The Nashville Predators
After the demolition of the Maple Leafs, the Predators find themselves ninth in the league in goals scored per game, tied with Washington and Vancouver. So Preds have a top-10 offense, top-10 possession stats, a top-two defense, and a butt-ugly special teams index. Harumph.
Let's not get too hung up on that, though. Yes, there could probably be a few more goals scored, and the PP/PK could possibly cost them a game or two down the road, but the Preds are rolling at even-strength. Besides, the power play has looked better as of late, and Mike Fisher's return could help the penalty kill immensely. If this were a situation where nothing was going right for the club, you'd have my permission to panic. But even with minimal help from the extra and missing man units, the Preds are still getting points.
Many could point to the insane goaltending Nashville is getting right now, or how high the NeRF line's shooting percentages are, and yell for regression. There's nothing wrong with that, they wouldn't be entirely wrong. But even with several things going the Preds' way early on, it's not like they find themselves in a Colorado or Toronto situation, where they are winning tons of games despite being severely outshot/outplayed. They are, for the most part, controlling the flow of the games, and playing the right way, which can go a long way in surviving the inevitable cold streak.
Braden will expand on this idea with more in depth numbers a little later today. For now, enjoy the ride the Predators are taking you on.
Reasons to Watch
- Maybe there's something in the water in Ontario, and Nashville will again be able to make the scoresheet resemble a successful game of Minesweeper.
- Karlsson's hair.
- David Legwand has been in Ottawa for a few months now, so hopefully he knows which penalty box is the correct one. (I will never let him live that down.)
How to See and Hear
FS-TN and 102.5 The Game have all your sights and sounds covered for this one. Remember, another early start for this one, so set your alarms for 6:30 p.m. CST.