The Nashville Predators are coming off of a heartbreaking loss in overtime to the Blues. The Dallas Stars are coming off a loss of their own against the Blue Jackets. Tonight's matchup hopes to be an exciting one heading into the new year.
The Dallas Stars
This Stars team is what many people were expecting last year when they acquired Jason Spezza. It took them a full year to get going, but Dallas has finally started to click on all fronts.
Part of the reason for their success has to do with their two headed monster in goal. Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen have proved to be valuable commodities to the Stars this season. I, for one, am not a fan of the two goalie rotation. I would think you would be killing any momentum a goalie has by sitting him when he has a win streak going. Regardless, it's working for Dallas. Niemi has been the better of the two, getting more starts, and posting a better GAA (2.31) and SV% (.916). The Stars have also posted two shutouts in the past week and a half of play.
Another reason for their success in the emergence of John Klingberg. He has been a pleasant surprise around the league this season. Klingberg is second among all defenseman in points (33) and is getting some serious Norris Trophy consideration. Anytime you have a Norris Trophy contender on your team, it can only mean good things (for the most part that is).
Dallas also made some key offseason moves to bolster their experience level. They went out and got Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya from the Chicago Blackhawks. Sharp has blended in just fine with this team. He is fourth on this roster in points for the season (31), and has fit in nicely with this offense. Oduya hasn't produced much in points, but his experience is why the Stars wanted to bring him in.
The only time the Stars lost back to back games this season was at the start of it when they lost their first two games. Let's hope Nashville can give them back to back losses tonight.
The Nashville Predators
The one thing the Predators want to avoid at all cost is going to overtime tonight. They dropped another overtime game on Tuesday night against the Blues. I think it's safe to say that 3-on-3 has not been friendly to the Predators this season.
The silver lining from Tuesday's game was that Nashville came back from two goals down late in the game to send it to overtime. That tells me that their confidence has not been shaken by multiple games of falling short because they weren't able to convert late in games. That is definitely a good sign going forward.
Another bright spot for the Predators is that Shea Weber has been on fire in the month of December. He is virtually scoring at will at this point. Along with Weber, Roman Josi has also been on a tear as of late. Josi has points in ten of his last twelve games. These guys are definitely leading by example while the team got/gets healthy.
Special teams has been the struggle for Nashville this year. At one point, it seemed like they couldn't stop anyone on the penalty kill, and they couldn't score on the powerplay. They have played a lot better as of late on special teams, but they need to have a strong showing tonight against a very good Stars team.
Reasons To Watch
- This is the first game against the Stars this year. Games against Dallas always seem to have an extra edge to them. I would expect to see the same tonight
- As I mentioned earlier, Weber and Josi have been phenomenal this season. They have truly been special to watch, and any chance you get to watch them play, you should take it.
Drink Of Choice For Game Time
Since it is New Year's Eve, I will be enjoying a nice Malbec tonight.
Sights And Sounds
FS-TN for TV and 102.5 The Game for radio. Puck drops at 7:30 pm CST.