Both the Nashville Predators and Philadelphia Flyers played day games yesterday, with the Flyers game kicking off an hour earlier (and ending about two hours sooner). The Flyers had a decisive 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks while the Predators fell in overtime to the New Jersey Devils in a game that they dominated until they didn’t.
The Predators fell twice to the Flyers last season, first in Philadelphia on an overtime powerplay goal from Shayne Gostisbehere, and again at home in a game I had honestly blocked out of my memory. Let’s not do that again.
The Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers are a team in something of a transition. They’re in the process of retooling with a lot of good young players, while still keeping some of the (good) older core around. Jakub Voracek has been scoring at his old pace when he isn’t getting in to fights on twitter, and is tied with Wayne Simmonds for team lead in points with 22.
The major storyline of the season is the play of the aforementioned Gostisbehere, who was inexplicably benched the same day as he won an award, and rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov, who had two goals in yesterday’s victory over the Blackhawks. I’m not ready to crown them any sort of heirs to Nashville’s bevvy of young defense, but they’ll be exciting once they weed out the MacDonalds and Gudases.
In goal, they’re hovering around and below a .900 save percentage, and only Steve Mason has a goals against average below three, which is an unexpected weakness for this season. Despite their struggles, I wouldn’t write off whichever goalie starts in net tomorrow.
The Nashville Predators
Despite the loss yesterday, when the Predators start rolling, they are unstoppable. They’ve really found their stride despite the continuing slew of injuries, and if the fourth line can pick up more than five minutes a night I feel pretty confident about their play.
The trio of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Viktor Arvidsson are doing work in James Neal’s absence, with a shot attempt percentage north of 70% versus the Devils. Arvidsson’s shot on the powerplay has looked a lot better as of late, too.
In goal, I expect to see Juuse Saros. Despite whatever certain inane twitter accounts may have implied, yesterday’s loss wasn’t on Rinne, but it’s not great for goaltenders to start back to back, and having a good backup is a luxury the Preds haven’t had nearly often enough. Little Bear is currently sporting a 1.02 GAA and .965 save percentage.
Reasons To Watch
- To get rid of the taste of Saturday’s game, which I look forward to forgetting shortly.
- Little Bear gets the start, which means third period interview time with Pekka Rinne. He can talk about sharing a name with Juuse’s dad.
- The usual yadda yadda about Forsberg and Arvidsson, which I mean as sincerely as possible. They’re great.
Sights and Sounds
Puck drop is at 5:00 PM Central on Fox Sports Tennessee and 102.5 The Game.