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Vegas Golden Knights vs. Nashville Predators: All the Feels for Neal

Storylines abound in the first ever meeting between the Knights and Predators.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The initial meeting between the Vegas Golden Knights and Nashville Predators offers several intriguing storyl…BAH GAWD THAT’S JAMES NEAL’S MUSIC!

All jokes aside, yes, HIS NAME IS JAMES NEAL!

Alright, I’m done. You get the point. Nealer is back in town, plus we have a potential Subban vs. Subban matchup as P.K. might have a chance to score a goal on his younger brother, Malcolm.

Vegas Golden Knights

The story for the Golden Knights in their debut season:

* wins eight of their first nine games *

Public: “This team is a fluke!”

* loses five of their next six *

“That’s more accurate.”

* goes 8-4 since then *


Vegas remains an enigma - they are amazing on home ice (11-2) but average on the road (6-7-1). And somehow, they’ve had this storybook season while having to use five different goalies, all of which would be backups on most NHL teams. Opening night starter Marc-Andre Fleury remains on injured reserve, leaving Subban and Maxime Lagace to fill the void. Legace is not good, but Subban has actually been very solid since being thrown into a tough situation (.923 SV%, 2.27 GAA).

Offensively, the Golden Knights have two productive top lines which have meshed well. In particular, the trio of Jonanthan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith have been dynamite, with all three owning 21 or more points. March and Smith played in Florida together and have carried that chemistry with them to Vegas, while Karlsson has already tied his career-high of 25 points for a season. Altogether, the combination owns a 59.03 Corsi For Percentage and 61.37 Shots For Percentage at 5-on-5.

The second unit isn’t too shabby, either. Neal highlights the line, centered by Erik Haula and a returning David Perron on the opposite wing. Last time out against Anaheim, Neal and Haula combined to register five points, led by a three-point night by Haula. Perron should be back in the lineup tonight.

On the blue line, the top three Vegas defensemen (Shea Theodore, Collin Miller and Nate Schmidt) are all 25 years or younger, but none of which pose a major threat. The Knights have allowed the sixth-most goals away from home this season.

Nashville Predators

We’re still waiting for the Predators to regress, but so far, they continue to exceed their underlying numbers.

Nashville currently owns the worst high danger scoring chances for percentage (41.79%) in the league, and most recently allowed the Dallas Stars to produce 70 shots at 5-on-5. On paper, the Preds should have been outmatched against both the Stars and Bruins, but here we are. Looking to build on a three-game winning streak.

As for that Turris line, they are locked in, with Kyle Turris and Kevin Fiala potting goals last game in Dallas. Throw in Craig Smith’s near-hat trick vs. Boston and you have a line sporting a 62.50 HDCF%.

Flashback: Neal arrives in Nashville

An episode of Beneath the Ice featuring Neal in his early days in Nashville. (Btw, is BTI still a thing?)

Reasons to Watch

· Camera panning to Karl Subban the entire game.

· Neal showing a smile as his tribute video plays during the first stoppage.

· Fans cringing once they see Neal no longer has front teeth.

· Will Alexei Emelin, Frederick Gaudreau or Yannick Weber follow suit with other depth players scoring their first goal?

· Lots of Vegas phrases on the broadcast – “rolling the dice” or “going all in” when Vegas pulls their goalie, or “against the odds” as the Knights fall behind after one period.

Watch and Listen

In case you haven’t heard, tonight’s game will be on CHANNEL 1250 for XFINITY CUSTOMERS! The rest stays the same – Fox Sports Tennessee on television and 102.5 The Game for the radio call.

All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick