Tonight the Colorado Avalanche are coming to Bridgestone Arena to face the Nashville Predators in their quest for the first overall draft pick.
Last place in the NHL by a substantial margin, this season has not been kind to the Avalanche. GM Joe Sakic has to be burning up from the hot seat he occupies. This team seems so far away from being competitive any time soon and he’ll have to do his best to max out their returns from the trade deadline. While some people are saying that Sakic could turn out better deals for players like Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog around the draft, will Sakic still have a job by then? If he fears that he may not, then the likelihood of more pieces moving now will increase.
The aforementioned Matt Duchene would fit in nicely on the Predators second line, but for his price tag it is unlikely the Predators make a move for him. GM David Poile said himself recently that he sees an inactive trade deadline approaching. That being said, with as little movement as has been, the cost to acquire a player like Duchene may fall. Poile should keep a stern eye on him tonight.
The Colorado Avalanche
In what has been another forgettable season for the Colorado Avalanche. Fourteen points away from the 29th place team in the NHL, the Arizona Coyotes, only a fool would bet against the Avalanche finishing dead last in the league.
Colorado feels like the current incarnation of the Edmonton Oilers of post-Stanley Cup Finals to this season. They’re drafting talented forwards (I still have hope for Landeskog), but they have completely ignored the issues plaguing them in net and on defense. Remember how they passed on Seth Jones for Nathan MacKinnon in the draft? Now, this is no knock on MacKinnon, who’s a phenomenal player, but given Seth’s development into one of the top defensemen in the league, that has to be a decision that the Avalanche would like to have back.
Defenseman Erik Johnson, who has been injured, fully participated in Colorado’s practice Wednesday, but it is unclear if he will first play tonight or tomorrow. Regardless, even with Johnson, the defensive corps is thin at best. Tyson Barrie is the only defenseman on the Avalanche with more than thirty games and an iCorsi/60 over 10. By contrast, the Predators have four defenseman that fit that category. The Avalanche are the worst team in the league for a reason, namely their atrocious defense.
The Nashville Predators
More exciting than #TeamStandPat and #TeamBlowItAllUp nowadays is the raging debate about the Predators’ goal crease. Should Juuse Saros begin seeing significantly more action, or does Pekka Rinne still deserve to hold down the crease?
Yes and no.
Juuse Saros has been incredibly impressive thus far. Despite giving up three goals on Sunday to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Predators were outplayed for most of the game. In the first period alone he was peppered with 19 shots while the Predators only managed 7. Furthermore, Juuse managed to come in against a Flames team on Tuesday and gave the Predators the chance to make a comeback. Meanwhile, Pekka has given up 4, 3, 4, and another 4 goals in his last four outings.
That being said, every goaltender in the league goes through stretches of subpar play. It’s just how it is. To overreact and say that Pekka Rinne is no good anymore is ridiculous considering just how good he’s been this season. His save percentage for this season is 0.001% below his career average. Saying that he’s the problem feels short-sighted and I don’t think it’s a well-founded argument.
Sure, the play of Saros has made it an interesting debate, but should he really be given consideration over Rinne in big games? Maybe give Saros a taste of a big game on March 4th at home against the Blackhawks and see how he does there. However, until Saros can win big games consistently, the three-time Vezina Trophy finalist should be the number one starter between the pipes.
Reasons to Watch
- You love him. I don’t really care about him. Matt Duchene is in town, so if he’s your cup of tea, enjoy watching him.
- P.K. Subban continues to be playing on an otherworldly level. With seven points in his last four games, he’s been a major reason why the Predators have been generating more offense as of late.
- In the last game preview, I talked about how Viktor Arvidsson was the highest scoring Swede on the roster. Filip Forsberg must not have liked hearing that, potting a hat-trick on Tuesday to pull ahead of Arvidsson by one goal. Both have been playing extremely well, so let’s hope they continue to one-up each other.
- Saros or Rinne? We’ll find out soon.
Gameday Hockey Lingo Word of the Day
Definition: A synonym of “bar Mexico” or “bar down”, bardownski is simply a way to describe a shot that goes off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net. I would say that bardownski is just a way to sound Polish while saying bar down, but that’s just not true. However, it is more fun to say, and that’s what really matters.”
Example: “After his hat-trick against Calgary, maybe we’ll see Filip go bardownski tonight?”
Sights and Sounds
The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. CST in Bridgestone Arena. If you can’t attend the game, the Predators will be televised on FS-TN or you can catch them on the radio at 102.5 The Game.