We know the story lines here. The Preds have lost three in a row, while the Devils continue to find their identity this season. Both teams have the exact same record in their last ten games (5-4-1), while most of the losses for the Preds have come recently.
This far into the season, you all should know how these things go. This one is going to be quick and to the point.
The New Jersey Devils
The is a different Devils team from the last time we saw them. Jaromir Jagr and Marek Zidlicky are no longer with the team. Jagr was traded a few days before the deadline (to the Florida Panthers), and Zidlicky was dealt yesterday on deadline day (to the Red Wings). It seemed like the Devils were happy with shipping those guys off to give them a chance at winning, because all they got in return were a few draft picks (not even good ones).
When you look at the scoring totals for New Jersey, you kind of wonder where they are getting production from. Mike Cammalleri and Adam Henrique have been playing well all season. Right behind those guys, you have a trio of familiar Devils leading the way. Patrick Elias, Travis Zajac, and Scott Gomez all are leading the way leading the way with twenty plus points for the Devils (yeah I know, it's hard to believe the phrase leading the way with twenty plus points this late in the season).
The last time we saw the Devils, they were twelve points out of the playoffs, and most thought they were dead in the water at that point. Today, they sit nine points out of the playoffs with nineteen games left to play. I don't think that they will be in the playoffs, but they could be spoilers to some teams that need to get wins late in the season. But hey, what do I know?
For Nashville, it's basically what the title of this preview says. They just need to get back to the basics. Granted, we all knew that this point of the season would come sooner or later. The Predators were over due for a losing streak. In my opinion, I would much rather go through this slump, and figure the kinks out now, as opposed to hitting this wall in the playoffs.
Getting back to the basics involves getting the first line going again. And when I mean going, I mean like they were going in the first half of the season. They were one of the more dominant first lines in the league. Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg are time for the team lead in points, and James Neal and Forsberg are tied for the team lead in goals. Matt Cullen has come on strong as of late, along with fellow Americans Craig Smith, Colin Wilson, and Seth Jones. If the first line can get going again, and these guys continue to step it up, Nashville will be back to their winning ways.
Pekka Rinne has to be better as well. He has still played at a very high (Hart caliber) level since coming back from his injury. But the last few games for him are ones that we'd like to forget quickly. Sometimes when you have a goalie of the caliber on your team, they tend to try to do too much to help their team win. I feel like that is how it has been the last few games. If Peks can just settle down, and let the boys in front of him do their job, the Preds will be just fine.
Reasons To Watch
- Not sure if this is true, but I read somewhere that Carter Hutton is on a four game win streak. So we got that going for us.
- Old No. 7 just keeps finding ways to get it done lately.
- We are due for an insanely crazy game by Forsberg.
Drink Of Choice For Game Time
It has been a while since I have gone local, so I am going to be enjoying a Yazoo Dos Perros for this one tonight.
Sights And Sounds
If you don't know them by now, then you probably shouldn't be watching it anyway. We have another early puck drop at 6:00 pm CST.