The Nashville Predators should be well rested and ready to put a rocky few weeks behind them.
Both teams have done the exact opposite of what was expected of them at the beginning of the season. Nashville was picked to be a cup contender, while Minnesota was expected to continue a downward spiral.
The Predators’ struggles with injury and inconsistency has plagued their season. The team hasn’t stayed healthy enough to see what it’s capable of at full strength. All of this mixed with the constant lack of consistency, the one problem that has haunted this team for too long.
Minnesota on the other hand is having themselves a season. Currently in the number one play-off spot in the central division with 82 points. They’re seven points ahead of the second place Chicago Blackhawks and 20 points ahead of the Predators who are clinging to a wild card spot.
Nashville has only dropped one game to Minnesota this season and the other two wins have been much needed. Coming off a week long break this is a division match-up the Predators can’t afford to lose.
The Minnesota Wild
Minnesota is 38-13-6 this season, and coming off a 3-1 win against the Dallas Stars. This is not the same team that fired their head coach last season, finished 5th in the central, and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. This Minnesota team is good.
Goaltending has been a highlight for the Wild this season. Devan Dubnyk has the highest Sv% in the league at .933 and he also has the most wins at 33. Dubnyk is not the same net-minder he was during his brief appearance in Nashville. He’s not even the same goaltender he was last season. He’s found another level to his game.
Mikael Granlund leads the Wild in points with 51, followed by Eric Staal with 44. Nino Niederreiter has 19 goals, followed by a four-way tie between Granlund, Staal, Mikko Koivu, and Jason Zucker with 16 a piece. Minnesota still have Zach Praise and Jason Pominville in their line-up as well.
While Nashville has played good hockey against a strong Minnesota team, they’ll have to stay focused and dig deep to close-out this series on top.
The Nashville Predators
The Predators will return from their week off on the road. The Wild are their first stop of a back to back road-trip. Their last back to back weekend before the break was a sloppy showing that fortunately ended on a high note with a massive comeback victory against the Dallas Stars.
It’s been noted that teams tend to lose their first game back after a week long vacation. This isn’t a statistic the Predators can afford to be a part of. They’ve had some luck against Minnesota already this season, and should look to capitalize on their third period performance against Dallas.
This is a team with a lot of scoring power that can net some quick goals as long as they keep constant pressure on the Wild’s defense. Nashville will always hold some resentment against Ryan Sutter, but we know Roman Josi is better, and it’s Josi’s time to shine. After leading the team out of the hole they dug themselves into against Dallas, Josi might be ready to get a streak of his own going.
Viktor Arvidsson has been a beacon of hope for this team. He’s been the Predator’s only consistent player all season. If the rest of the offense can follow his lead and work ethic there may still be time for the Preds to claw their way back into the third playoff spot in the central.
Reasons to Watch
- Viktor Arvidsson - We don’t have to justify it anymore, just watch him.
- Roman Josi - Because Josi is better.
- Because it’s been a week without Predators hockey.
Sights and Sounds
Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. You can catch it on Fox Sports TN or Fox Sports Go. As always, you can listen to 102.5 the Game with Pete Weber and Brent Peterson calling the game.