The Carolina Hurricanes, a yearly punching bag for the rest of the NHL, sit in a normal position for them in the standings: last in the East. They are 2-4-3 and have seven points in nine games. Despite having some young talent, the Hurricanes are about where everyone expected them to be.
The same cannot be said of the Nashville Predators, who are 3-5-2 through ten games and have yet to really establish an identity. That being said, they have played seven of those ten games away from home and have been involved in a substantial number of back-to-backs, so hopefully a return to normality will jump-start a team sorely in need of something to wake them up.
The Carolina Hurricanes
While their core is the same, the Carolina Hurricanes made some smart moves this summer and have done a good job at assembling talented assets that will help them in the future. Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk, Sebastian Aho, and Viktor Rask are all 24 or younger. The Hurricanes also profited from Chicago’s salary cap issues this summer and aquired the 22 year old Teuvo Teravainen. That is a list of five very talented and very young players.
Since they won the Stanley Cup in 2006, the Carolina Hurricanes have been haunted by poor goaltending. Cam Ward, despite being average at best since winning the Conn Smythe, is still the starter between the pipes. Eddie Lack, who has a 2.56 GAA and .911 save percentage over the last three seasons, has not been a better option so far, posting a 4.00 GAA and .857 save percentage over three games this season.
With a young team, despite their talent, a lot of defensive mistakes are usually made. This compounds the issue of goaltending for the Carolina Hurricanes. For them to win, they will need Cam Ward to bail out their youth on a fair number of occasions.
The Nashville Predators
Well thank goodness that road trip is over. After spending five games out of the central timezone, the Predators are returning to Bridgestone Arena after collecting only four of a possible ten points from their road trip.
What is more troubling is how the team lacks any sense of identity.
When the going gets tough, a team needs their stars to shine through. That has been anything but the case for the Nashville Predators, as Ryan Johansen, James Neal, and Filip Forsberg have not been major factors all season, save for Johansen’s three assists against the Blackhawks in the season opener. James Neal only has one goal, while Filip Forsberg has yet to score.
Furthermore, the Predators were projected to be a speed team, but they look sluggish out on the ice. That can be attributed to their schedule perhaps; however, one would hope that fatigue is not an issue only ten games into the season.
Viktor Arvidsson and Craig Smith have been bright spots for the Predators thus far. Arvidsson has looked every bit the player he was in the playoffs last season, while Smith has picked up his game over the road trip. Once Smith starts scoring, he stays hot for a while, so look out for more goals from him tonight.
Reasons to Watch
- It has been a while since the Predators have been in Nashville. Head on down to the game!
- The Hurricanes have tons of young talent that will shine bright sooner or later. Regardless of who is playing, one should always seize the chance to see talent.
- In returning to the Bridgestone Arena against one of the worst teams in the league, the Predators have a great chance to get back on track. One could not ask for a better team to play at home after a long road trip.
- Matt Irwin has been playing some great hockey. Will he put in another performance and force Laviolette to keep him in the lineup long term?
Gameday Hockey Lingo Word of the Day
Lettuce [let-is], noun.
Definition: Hair, although usually it is used more specifically to describe gorgeous, flowing hockey hair that probably resembles a waterfall somewhere in Scandinavia.
Example: “How come every player in the league named Karlsson has such wonderful lettuce?”
Sights and Sounds
You can (and should) head downtown to Bridgestone Arena for the game, but if circumstances otherwise prevent you from doing so, the game will be on on FS-TN and you can listen to it on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 7:00 pm