The Nashville Predators are coming off a very successful November, bookended by a couple wallopings of the Colorado Avalanche. The New Jersey Devils had a more mediocre month, but they’ve lost four games in a row, most recently an OT heartbreaker against the Chicago Blackhawks.
This is the first of two meetings versus the Devils this season. They split the season series with a Predators win and overtime loss last year, but they have a bit of a new look this season.
The New Jersey Devils
The Devils controlled play for the first period of their last game against the Blackhawks, including a Travis Zajac hat trick, before letting the Hawks back into the game and eventually losing in overtime to a Marian Hossa goal.
Taylor Hall returned to the lineup on Thursday after being out with an injury for several games. He recorded two shots on goal and three blocks, but no points in 19:49 of ice time.
John Hynes didn’t reveal his starting goaltender on Thursday, but Keith Kinkaid is 2-1-2 with a .933 save percentage and Cory Schneider is 8-6-4 with a more average .912. Either goaltender is capable of stealing a win, although their team goals per game is a slightly below average 19th.
The Nashville Predators
The Predators are a little banged up right now, but organizational depth is keeping the team rolling. Miikka Salomaki is working on a conditioning stint in Milwaukee and should be back shortly. Ellis is day-to-day and didn’t participate in practice on Friday, so I don’t anticipate him back this weekend.
Ryan Johansen’s play of late has contributed to the Predators’ torrid pace coming into today’s game. He has seven points in his last four games, including four goals, tying him with Filip Forsberg for team lead in points. P.K. Subban has also really stepped up his game over the past week, being much more comfortable in making plays and having his teammates anticipate them. His vision to pass Viktor Arvidsson the puck on Tuesday and Arvidsson being ready for it is a great sign of things to come.
The goaltending duo of Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros has been more than solid, although it will take a little longer for Little Bear to get used to the third period interview. Hopefully he and his .965 save percentage stick around a little longer.
Reasons to Watch
- I’d tune in just to watch Taylor Hall block shots. That’s got to be bizarre.
- The call-ups have all been playing well, and Petter Granberg may make his season debut skating alongside Yannick Weber. Mike Liambas may make his NHL debut, although I’m not counting on it.
- Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson are always worth tuning in for.
Sights and Sounds
Puck drop is at 1:00 PM Central on Fox Sports Tennessee and 102.5 The Game.