Like Link said in the Predcast, the key will be to see if the Predators can be good against mediocre teams. The Maple Leafs have been struggling this season but Andersen can still make some saves and they have a roster full of electrifying rookies to complement human punching bag model Leo Komarov and "league's best penalty-drawing forward" Nazem Kadri.
The Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews has been scoring at a much lower rate than the Toronto media would like, but he still has twelve points in fifteen games and has been very good at driving play. Alongside William Nylander and Mitch Marner, they have plenty of new scoring threats.
Not to be outdone by the new guys, Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak have a respectable number of points. Kadri in particular has had a few moments this season where he reminded the NHL media that he exists, including a sneaky play on an OT goal against Connor McDavid. They have more than their fair share of pests including the aforementioned Kadri, so keeping a cool head will be key.
Frederick Andersen, on the other hand, has a .901 save percentage so far this season, so if the Predators are able to jump on him early it bodes well for their chances the rest of the game.
The Predators last time out was a 5-0 trouncing of the Anaheim Ducks that looked a lot more impressive on the scoreboard than the ice, so it will be on them to demonstrate that their success over the past week wasn't just a home ice fluke. They need to get off to a good start from minute one, especially with a shaky goaltender in the opposing net.
Tonight would be as good a time as any to scratch Cody Bass, if that were going to happen. Pontus Aberg would provide a boost in scoring, and no one that Bass should be fighting would actually be will to go. It’s going to be on players like P.K. Subban and James Neal to keep focused, since there’s no longer anyone on the team who’se legally permitted to flatten players in the crease.
Pekka Rinne is the reigning third star of the week, and while I don’'t expect or need him to continue to have a .974 save percentage, if he can keep up a good level of play, the team should be well set. But wait!
Reasons To Watch
- Auston Matthews, future of American hockey. He doesn’t have quite the flair of a Jack Eichel, but he’s worth tuning in for, as NBC has demonstrated by twice adjusting their schedule to put him on TV.
- Filip Forsberg finally scored, so manybe he’ll have a repeat performance of his last appearance in Toronto. I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised.
- Viktor Arvidsson has been worth tuning in every game this past week. Whether he’s winning faceoffs or helping little old ladies across the street, there’s no one happier to be here than Arvidsson.
How To Watch
Puck drop is at 6:30 Central on 102.5 FM and Fox Sports Tennessee.