It's Superbowl Sunday everybody! And what better way to get ready for the big game tonight than some good old afternoon hockey. Who's with me?!
The last time these two teams met, Pittsburgh took it to Nashville in a 3-0 win, in Nashville. I'm sure we are all hoping for a different outcome this time around.
The Penguins have been up and down over the last couple of weeks. They went 4-3-3 in their last ten games, and have had trouble finding some rhythm as of late. The good thing for Pittsburgh is the fact that they don't really have to worry too much about having a bit of a slump. Their division is virtually a four team race at this point, and the Penguins are sitting in second place as of right now.
Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby continue to lead this team in all aspects of the game. They are both one and two on the team with points, and both are in the top six in the NHL in point production. Needless to say, if you can slow those guys down, you have a pretty good chance of winning the game. But that is a lot easier said than done. The Penguins have some nice scoring depth to go along with those two guys. Chris Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist have been able to take on some of the scoring burden for the team. Kris Letang continues to be a great facilitator on the backend for Pittsburgh. And not to mention, they are getting some great goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury leads the league in shutouts (one of them being against us), and he is in the top ten in all the major goaltending categories. He isn't flashy, but he makes the timely saves that help swing momentum in the opposite direction. That is probably one of the best attributes a goaltender can have.
As a Predators fan, you have to think that things can only go up from Friday night's game. And yes, I realize that things aren't going to get any easier against the Penguins. But Friday's performance was just abysmal to say the least. The Preds came out flat, and stayed flat the entire game. And then when you add the absurd amount of penalties called against Nashville the last two games, it becomes a slippery slope downhill.
No worries though, because if we have seen anything this season, it's the fact that Peter Laviolette doesn't let his team play flat two games in a row. All of the usual suspects are still producing at a high level. Craig Smith and Colin Wilson continue to provide a solid, secondary scoring option. Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg are playing as well as any top line out there. Shea Weber and Roman Josi (despite the past couple of games) are still a steady tandem on the backend. The only real question is the goaltending for Nashville. The Preds are 2-2-2 since Pekka Rinne's injury.
Carter Hutton's issues are still the same. He needs to stop the easy goals. He played well for the most part against St. Louis, but let in two goals that should have been stopped. They were one on one with no one screening the net. He can't let the Penguins get easy goals today. If he does, I am going to expect a similar outcome as Friday.
Reasons To Watch
Because, as I mentioned before, what better way to get ready for the big game at night, than with some afternoon hockey. You can make it an all day party.
Drink Of Choice For Game Time
It is an afternoon game, so go ahead and get your daytime drinking on with any of the following: Bloody Mary, Mimosas, or Screwdrivers. At this point, it really is whatever floats your boat.
Sights And Sounds
It's the usual suspects with FS-TN and 102.5 The Game for your viewing and listening pleasure. Puck drops at 1:00 pm CST.