Heat up that leftover Christmas ham, pour another glass of eggnog, and put your hockey helmet on. The Nashville Predators end their holiday break as they welcome the Detroit Red Wings into Music City for their final showdown of the year.
I'm writing this on the tail end of Christmas night, with a Man o' War in hand and eyeing some Knob Creek when this is over. So let's enjoy some post-holiday hockey with some food, drink and good company.
The Detroit Red Wings
Early in the season it looked like the Montreal Canadiens were going to run away with the Atlantic division. Now, thanks so some lackluster play and an injured Carey Price, there's only three points separating first place through fifth place. Montreal, Boston, Florida, Detroit and Ottawa are all holding down playoff spots in the East, and the struggling Lightning are still within striking distance.
The Predators did the Wings a favor on Monday by continuing the Habs' losing streak, especially since they lost to New Jersey on Tuesday. They've only five wins in their last 10 games, and want to avoid any lengthy losing streaks since the division is wide open.
Detroit's attack is on the same level as Nashville's (88 goals scored in 34 games), though they are certainly getting more balanced scoring from their forwards. Dylan Larkin, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Justin Abdelkader all have more than 10 goals, and Henrik Zetterberg joins them having more than 20 points. They were the ones that helped Detroit come back from a 3-1 deficit when Nashville was in Motor City, and eventually won them the game.
The Nashville Predators
Nashville entered the Christmas break winning two consecutive games for the first time since the Hoover administration. Now they want to make it three wins in a row for the first time since October, when they started the season with three wins, lost to the Islanders, then won three again. They are still five points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche, so they have breathing room. Of course, it would be better if they didn't have to put that room to the test.
Mr. Colin Wilson had himself his best game in recent memory on Monday, with two assists and an empty net goal. Hopefully that's the type of jump start that he needs to get going on the year, but so often with him those type of performances fade away with several more lackluster games. Maybe he asked Santa for some more accurate sticks.
In fact, Nashville would like all of their scoring forwards to start gong on a roll as well. Shea Weber and Roman Josi have been running the show recently for the team and, while that's all well and good, the Predators need goals from the guys who are paid to score. Of course, that sentiment is nothing new, but now that it's almost 2016 some balanced scoring would be great. No more of this score five goals in one game, then score five goals over the span of the next three games stuff.
The Important Stuff
Get back into the swing of things with FS-TN and 102.5 The Game. Prep for a Golden Saturday as well.