Last night’s game was between two teams that have been disappointing and tonight’s game is no different. Quite a few experts had both of these teams going quite far in the playoffs.
Tonight there should be only one goal in mind: getting back on the right track.
The Florida Panthers
The season for the Panthers has been plagued with average play in all aspects of the game. They have not gotten any consistent scoring depth through the entire lineup, and their goal-tending has been sub-par to say the least.
Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr are leading the way for this team. Barkov has come into his own nicely this year as he leads the team in points and assists (27P, 18A). Jagr has also been getting decent production, who has seemed to find the fountain of youth in his 40s. He passed Mark Messier for second on the all-time NHL scoring list this season, and I expect that he will add quite a bit more to that total before he is done for good.
These two guys have also been getting some help from Jonathan Marchessault and Vincent Trochek. All four of these players have amassed 20+ points so far. The problem is the drop off in production after the top four guys. The next closest point totals after Trochek go as follows: 18, 16, 16, 12. The drop in production is noticeable. The Panthers are struggling to find secondary scoring, and like Nashville, it is hurting them this year.
The Nashville Predators
What honestly needs to be said here. We all can speculate and guess what needs to be fixed, but at the end of the day, none of us are paid to do it. The one common problem with this team that I hear all the time is the lack of identity.
The Predators went from a hard-nosed, grind it out, physical team under Barry Trotz, to a more fast-paced, push the tempo team under Peter Laviolette. The problem is that the Predators are neither of those teams right now. They are kind of stuck in the middle and not sure what direction to go in.
The team as been competitive for the most part, but there are nights when I think to myself, man, something is just not right with this team. To be honest, there are some nights where the team just doesn’t look motivated to be out on the ice.
Luckily for us though, Nashville isn’t too far off the pace they were at last year.
Last year at 37 games, #Preds were at 43 points and +4 goal diff. This year, 39 points and +1 goal diff. Expectations change perspective.— Justin Bradford (@justinbbradford) January 4, 2017
The important thing to remember is that Nashville went through this last year, and they ended up getting hot at the right time.
The one key factor to turning things around will be getting Pekka Rinne the rest he needs for the long haul. The organization has done a great job so far in doing so. It also doesn’t hurt the Juuse Saros has played phenomenally when he has gotten the chance. Let’s hope Little Bear can ride his hot hand tonight against the Panthers.
Reasons To Watch
- Saros has become really fun to watch lately. I don’t know if it’s a Finnish thing or what, but both Rinne and Saros have been a treat to watch this season.
- Filip Forsberg seems to have finally found a consistent scoring touch. Now that he is gaining some confidence, I expect him to become a highlight reel type player.
- I don’t really put someone from the opposing team as a reason to watch normally, but Jagr has become borderline must-see TV. What he is doing at his age should not be overlooked. He’s still got it!
Drink Of Choice For Game Time
I am going to go with a local, Nashville brewery tonight. I will be throwing back a Yazoo Sly Rye Porter. I am not typically a fan of stout beers, but I had this recently and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Sights And Sounds
The game can be seen on FS-TN and heard on 102.5 The Game radio. Puck drops at 6:30 pm CST.