Nashville has been playing very well as of late. Their record is only 2-1-2 in their last five games, but they have played great in each of those.
Tonight will be no easy task as the Kings come into town with their division leading 70 points. Both teams are playing well, so tonight should be a playoff atmosphere in Nashville.
The Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are exactly who everyone thought they were going to be this year. That is a contender for the Stanley Cup. Typically, they do it by sneaking into the playoffs and then making a run. This year, however, they are dominating and leading the division while doing so. Just look at their numbers (via Sporting Charts)
They are in the top half of the league in all the major categories, except for team shooting percentage. But let's be real here, that is the one stat I couldn't care less about as long as the team is scoring.
We all know the Kings are excellent up front. They are being led by none other than Anze Kopitar. He leads them in points, and to be honest, that really isn't a surprise. Kopitar, in my mind at least, has been one of the league's elite players for the past few years. Slowing the Kings down means that you have to shut down him first.
It only begins with slowing down Kopitar though. You also have to be able to score on this team. That has proven to be a tough task this season. They are tied at second in the league in total goals allowed with 136. Jonathan Quick has been the main reason for that (obviously). He has posted a 2.22 GAA and a .919 SV%. Those numbers are good enough to win you a lot of games in this league. But we can't forget about the work Jhonas Enroth has done in relief for Quick. He has put up equal, if not better numbers than Quick in his handful of starts.
The Kings are the class of the league. In order to compete in this league, you have to be able to compete with teams like this on a nightly basis.
The Nashville Predators
The Predators have finally been living up to their preseason expectations over the last few games. They have been getting some depth at scoring, and excellent goaltending play. This is what fans have been waiting to see since early December.
The beauty about this team is that they don't need to score a ton of goals to win games if their goaltending is on point. Does it help if they do? Of course it does. But they have the talent to win low scoring, or high scoring games. If they can play the possession game like we know they can, this team will start getting back on track.
Yes, I know that the Preds have played well into the possession style of play this season, so before everyone jumps down my throat, I understand that. The possession numbers are just one half of what needs to be done. The other half is cutting down on "soft" goals. These have been too common this season. Luckily for the Preds, Carter Hutton has played excellent in relief, and Pekka Rinne had a great bounce back performance the other night. Maybe all Rinne needed was some overdue rest. It was his first game in six days.
Regardless of what it was that got him back on track for that game, it needs to happen more often now. It is getting to the point of the season where the first line alone is not going to be able to carry this team into the playoffs. All aspects of the game need to start coming together, and if the last few games have been any indication, I think they are heading in the right direction.
Drink Of Choice For Game Time
The Predators are playing well and it's a Saturday night. So why not bust out the good stuff for tonight! I will be sipping on Macallan neat.
Sights And Sounds
FS-TN for television and 102.5 The Game for radio. Puck drops at 7:00 pm CST.