After picking up a solid two points in a confidence-boosting shootout win against the newly-crowned-fiercest-rival Anaheim Ducks, the Predators will welcome the Boston Bruins to Bridgestone on Monday night. Although they pulled out the win against Anaheim, the Predators play at times was...let’s say...concerning (see below).
We can see that the Preds controlled play in a rather dominant manner after tying the game late, but, before that, it was a sluggish affair. The Smith-Turris-Fiala line continues to dominate, but it will be up to the rest of the top-9 to build another winning streak beginning with Boston.
This will be the second and last meeting between the two teams. You may remember the Preds opened their season in Boston with an ugly 4-3 loss that got the Twitter arguments flowing.
I think this is a really crucial game for this team. It may not seem so, but in order to keep pace with the scorching-hot Central Division, the Predators need to continue picking up two points against depleted opponents.
The Boston Bruins
The Bruins have lost the second most cap hit dollars to injury this season (only behind the Ducks). You can check this out and other great stuff at NHL InjuryViz. The team is starting to become healthy, however. The big four upfront, Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak, and Krejci are all projected to be in the lineup, but the Bruin’s bottom-six is still young and, hopefully, exploitable.
The defense is healthy, but Matt Grzelcyk is playing in place of Adam McQuaid. Bonus points if you knew of him before this post.
Anton Khudobin is the confirmed starter against the Preds. He’s been hot this season (7-0-2, 2.22 GAA, 0.932 SV%). The Bruins have been giving him more starts over Tuuka Rask this season - at least more than a typical backup - and he’s responded accordingly.
The Nashville Predators
The Predators are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, but have sputtered a bit after putting together an impressive November.
Filip Forsberg recorded an assist last night. Per Adam Vingan, he’s the only player in the NHL to have a point in every home game.
A note of concern, Ryan Johansen left Saturday night’s game in the second period and did not return. Vingan reported the following post-game:
FWIW, Ryan Johansen just left Bridgestone Arena and didn’t appear to have any visible signs of injury. Of course, that’s not an official media diagnosis.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) December 3, 2017
Something to watch if Johansen can’t go against the Bruins is who draws into the lineup: Pontus Aberg or Miika Salomaki. Maybe both if Cody McLeod finds himself back in the pressbox, but after actually winning a fight against the Ducks, he might have carved out some good will with Lavy.
Pekka Rinne is the projected starter. If I’m coaching, I go with Lindback. It’s an Eastern Conference opponent that the Predators wouldn’t be giving up points to in the Central Division race, and Rinne has to take a game off sometime. Milwaukee had two rough games this weekend. Saros looked alright in both, but a Tuesday night start against San Diego could help even further.
Reasons to Watch
- Aren’t we always looking for something fun to do on a Monday night? I, for one, will be using the game to procrastinate final papers.
- If Coach Laviolette reads this and does start Lindback, it would be his first go in a Nashville uniform since a 6-1 win at Colorado on April 7, 2012.
- Maybe Pontus Aberg will score his first goal this season (probably not, though)!
- We get it - games against the Bruins don’t frequently standout. But hey, we love our Preds!
After a vigorous search, I determined there are no notable highlights in Predators’ history against the Bruins (no, the McLeod v. McQuaid fight is not a highlight). Feel free to provide your Preds vs. Bruins memories in the comments!
Sights and Sounds
As usual, the radio call will go to 102.5 The Game. Mace and Willy will have the call on Fox Sports Tennessee. Puck drop is 7 p.m. CT.