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Nashville Predators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Preview: A Well Oiled Machine

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Nashville looks to continue their hot streak as they take on the Penguins in Smashville tonight.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators have been on a roll since the beginning of the season. The Penguins on the other hand, have been streaky to say the least. On paper, this game has great watchability potential, but Pittsburgh's on ice talent hasn't translated to success so far this season.

Maybe Phil Kessel disturbed the chemistry that was already there, or maybe he's a curse to any team he is on. Who knows? Instead of focusing on Pittsburgh's problems on the season, let's focus on tonight's game, shall we?

The Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins made one of the bigger moves of the offseason when they acquired Kessel from the Leafs. I'm sure everyone, including myself, thought that was the missing piece to put them over the edge to compete for the Cup this year. Whatever the case may be, he hasn't has much success so far, though it's still early. You have to think that Kessel and the team will eventually turn things around and start producing at a high level.

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As I mentioned before, it's not just Kessel who is struggling for this team. Through seven games so far, Kessel, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Sidney Crosby have a combined 15 points on the season, and it took Crosby a while to get on the board. The rest of the team has 10. Having your big guns not produce is okay if you can get secondary scoring from the third and fourth lines. Unfortunately, the Penguins haven't been getting that.

Pittsburgh has also been a streaky team this year. They started the season off with three straight losses, then turned it around for three straight wins. They are coming off a blowout loss to the Stars on Thursday night. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back from the latest setback. I guess we'll have to just wait and see.

The Nashville Predators

The Predators have been the complete opposite of the Penguins this season. They are 6-1-0 on the season and sit at the top of the Western Conference standings (as of Friday). From all the post game interviews on Thursday night, this team truly believes that this is where they are supposed to be. That's what you want to hear from a team that is a contender.

To give you an idea of how slow of a start the Pittsburgh stars are having, Malkin has a total of 5 points this year. The Predators have five players that have at least 5 points or more. James Neal is leading the pack with 8 points. He is a man on a mission this year and it looks like no one is getting in the way of that. It almost feels like it doesn't matter who you put in between Neal and Filip Forsberg, because they are going to score regardless.

Another bright spot on the Nashville season has been Austin Watson. Watson has 2 points in four games, but more importantly, he is comfortable on the ice. Every time I watch this kid play, it looks like he is getting better with the more games he plays. Let's hope that keeps up for the rest of the season.

Reasons To Watch

  • You have a bevy of stars coming into Nashville tonight, and no matter how bad they have performed this season, they are still a fun team to watch.
  • Predators legend Matt Cullen will make his grand return. Oh, and that Patric Hornqvist guy.
  • Nashville is playing at another level right now. I am hoping this lasts all season, but just incase it doesn't, you don't want to miss any minute of it.
  • Heel James Neal....that is all.

Drink Of Choice For Game Time

This is going to be a scotch type of game for me. I would recommend sipping on some Lagavulin to get you ready for this game.

Sights And Sounds

We have the usual suspects for this one. FS-TN locally for TV and 102.5 for radio. Puck drops at 7:00 pm CST.