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Nashville Predators @ Calgary Flames Preview: Wild Card Battle

Both Nashville and Calgary are in the thick of things in the wild card race. Both look to gain an edge tonight.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Nashville is coming off of a controversial game on Tuesday night. Calgary, on the other hand, is coming off of a 5-2 dismantling of the Florida Panthers. Both teams are looking to gain the extra edge in a tight wild card race coming down the stretch.

The Calgary Flames

The Flames have been quite the surprise this year. I don’t think anyone expected them to be doing what they have been doing all season long. Calgary has placed themselves at the top of a tightly played Western Conference wild card spot.

Really, though, when you look at the stats, it isn’t that surprising at all. The Flames have seven players that have 27 points or more. To give you an idea of how good that is, the Predators only have two players that have 27 points or more. What’s even more impressive is that it is the young guns that are doing it for the Flames. Three of their top four scorers are 23 years of age or younger. Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau, and Sean Monahan have all stepped up in a big way this year. Their leading scorer, Mikael Backlund, is the so-called “veteran” in the group of top scorers. He is only the age of 27. This group of young talent is only getting better as the season progresses. That is a scary thought moving forward.

One of the things that has also been working well for the Flames is a 2-goalie system. Both Brian Elliott (21 GP, 2.85 GAA, .893 SV%) and Chad Johnson (27 GP, 2.24 GAA, .923 SV%) have played well this season. Johnson seems to be getting the slight edge in playing time considering his numbers are slightly better. I would expect them to lean a little heavier on Elliott going down the stretch due to his experience.

The Nashville Predators

This is going to be short and to the point today. Nashville was on the wrong end of a no-goal call on Tuesday night. It’s a long season, and bad calls like that are bound to happen from time to time. Bottom line is that this team can’t let that bring them down and cost them a crucial two points tonight in Calgary.

The one constant for the Predators this entire season has been their goaltending. Yes, you read that right. What was said to be this team’s biggest concern coming into the season, has now become one of their strengths. The Predators are ranked 8th in the entire league in goals allowed. Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros have been unbelievable this season. I know I have said it before, and I will probably say it a few more times before the season is over, but the team can’t squander points when they are getting the goaltending they have been getting this year.

Reasons To Watch

  • As I mentioned before, Calgary has a bevy of young, exciting talent. Watching it in action really is a treat. I expect a very high tempo game tonight.
  • It is basically that time of year where every game is so important. This one is no different. The Flames are at the top of the wild card race while the Predators are currently on the outside looking in. This is a big game no matter how you put it.
  • I expect James Neal to get back into rhythm sooner rather than later. I would not be surprised if we see a goal or two from him tonight.

Drink Of Choice For Game Time

Tonight, I will be drinking coffee. It is not that late of a game to be honest with you, but I feel like coffee is just the right choice for tonight.

Sights And Sounds

You can watch the game on FS-TN or listen to it on 102.5 The Game radio. Puck drops at 8:00 pm CST.