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Nashville Predators vs. Montreal Canadiens Preview: An Emotional Return

Former captain Shea Weber returns to Nashville six months after being traded for P.K. Subban

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

The Nashville Predators are set to kick off their first game of the New Year against former captain Shea Weber and the Montreal Canadiens. This will be Weber’s first game at Bridgestone Arena not in a Predators jersey.

Unfortunately for Preds fans, and everybody else for that matter, they will have to wait until Mar. 2 to see Subban and Weber go head-to-head. Subban has been ruled out for at least two weeks with an upper-body injury and will miss tonight’s game.

Make sure to bring the tissues, it is going to be an emotional night in the Music City.

The Montreal Canadiens

Nashville is catching Montreal at a time when they are playing perhaps their worst hockey of the season. The Canadiens have just three wins in their last nine. This is also the fifth of seven consecutive road games for Montreal who is by far a better home team (15-3-2) than road team (7-6-4).

All eyes will undoubedtly be on Weber, but another former Predator, Alex Radulov will also be making his return to Bridgestone Arena. The always-controversial Radulov will be returning to Nashville for the first time since 2012, fortunately for him he won’t have bar-hopping buddy Andrei Kostisyn to keep him company.

Max Pacioretty leads the Habs in scoring this season (30). He leads the team in goals with 15 and has another 15 assists. Radulov has been a welcome, and surprising, addition to the club and he is their second-leading scorer with 26 points.

Montreal will be without several key players including: Alex Galchenyuk (their third leading scorer), David Desharnais, Andrew Shaw, Andrei Markov, and Greg Pateryn.

The Nashville Predators

The Preds are coming off a 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues. It was the first NHL shutout for Juuse Saros, and Viktor Arvidsson scored perhaps the goal-of-the-year.

After starting the year 10-3-2 at Bridgestone Arena, and having one of the best winning percentages on home ice, the Preds have dropped their last five home games. A little good news for Preds fans, Nashville has only lost one game in regulation at home against the Canadiens - March 10, 2003. Nashville has taken at least one point in nine straight games against Montreal, including three consecutive wins.

The Preds will be without P.K. Subban for at least two weeks, but are hopeful he can return before the All-Star break. Someone they need to step up in Subban’s absence is Ryan Johansen. When Johansen, the team’s leading scorer, puts pucks in the net the Preds are 6-0-0. The Preds have three players in double digit goals: James Neal, Mike Fisher, and Viktor Arvidsson. It will be interesting to see how they attack one of, if not the, best goalie in the NHL.

Reasons to Watch

  1. Two words: Shea Weber. It will no doubt be an emotional return for not only No. 6 but for the fans as well. Weber meant so much to this franchise and was the face of the team for so many years that despite him donning the red and blue jersey he will receive a warm welcome from the fans.
  2. Filip Forsberg has goals in five of his last six games, including three straight. He is heating up after a relatively quiet start to the season. Can Forsberg keep the goals coming?
  3. How will the Preds start 2017? Following a 4-0 domination of the St. Louis Blues, will Nashville keep it going? A contest against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference should be a good measuring stick to determine what kind of Predators team we will see in 2017 and the rest of the season.

Song of the Game

Home by Marc Broussard

Sights & Sounds

You can catch the game on Fox Sports TN or the Fox Sports Go app - puck drop is at 7:00. And as always you can turn your radio dial to 102.5 the Game and listen to Pete Weber and Brent Peterson with the call.