The Predators roll into Raleigh tonight to take on the Hurricanes. They will look to build on the momentum from Thursday night’s win over the Washington Capitals. If the Preds win tonight, it won’t be as big as that win over the Caps, but it will still be important in the ever stressful race to the playoffs.
Only 12 games left!
The Carolina Hurricanes
Though they are not technically eliminated from postseason play, it looks like the Hurricanes will miss the playoffs for the 8th straight year. They have 70 points on the season, which puts them 8 points out of a playoff spot. They would have to hop four teams to even get to that spot, which seems unlikely.
The Canes are about as below average as you can get in the NHL, but I guess aren’t terrible. They generate 2.54 goals per game, which puts them 21st in the NHL and they’ve got a pair of 20 goal scorers that can do some damage. One of them is Finnish rookie Sebastian Aho, who has 20 goals on the season. The other is a guy you’ve probably grown sick of as a Pred fan, Jeff Skinner.
Skinner has 12 points in 10 career games against the Predators, including six goals. That might not seem like a lot, but it’s the highest point per game rate that Skinner has against any team. He’s shooting 24.0% against the Preds in his career and always seems to get a big goal at the right time.
CAUTION: CARTER HUTTON HIGHLIGHTS AHEAD. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.
More potential threats on the Canes offense include Victor Rask (16 goals) Teuvo Teravainen (14 goals) and former Predator Viktor Stalberg (9 goals).
Defensively, the Canes have some decent offensive options. Justin Faulk is probably the Canes’ best overall defenseman and Jaccob Slavin is the guy who had the only shootout goal in the win against the Preds on November 5th. Add Noah Hanifin to the mix, who has eight assists on the power play, and you’ve got a blueline that can do some damage on the offensive end.
Still, the Canes allow 2.82 goals per game which puts them 19th in the league. Goaltending has been a real problem. Cam Ward’s 90.4% save percentage is pretty bad, but his 5v5 save percentage of 90.9% is even worse. He’s been as bad (actually worse, in most situations) than the tandem in Dallas. And backup Eddie Lack has been even worse than Ward. These two goalies cost about $6 million in cap room and are signed through next year.
That 2006 Stanley Cup seems like ages ago.
The Nashville Predators
The Preds won a huge game on the road on Thursday beating th— OH, JUST POST PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT VIKTOR ARVIDSSON
*in the regular season, that is
Impressive, Viktor Arvidsson.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) March 17, 2017
lol viktor arvidsson has 25 goals wtf— J.R. Lind (@jrlind) March 17, 2017
BLESS YOU VIKTOR ARVIDSSON. BLESS YOU— The7thPredator (@The7thPred) March 17, 2017
I love Viktor Arvidsson! That kid has got game! ❤— Trixie (@twilder731) March 17, 2017
Yesterday several Predators and team staffers posed for a St. Patty’s Day photo. But all the focus was on Ryan Ellis’ shirt:
*Everyone ignores large amount of gingers, focuses on Ryan Ellis's "Viktor Freaking Arvidsson" t-shirt* https://t.co/0uQTeZMxkw— Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) March 17, 2017
This town is in love with Viktor Arvidsson. Sure, they love Pekka Rinne, Mike Fisher, Roman Josi, and others... but Arvy is everyone’s fav.
Tiny hockey man from a tiny hockey town.
Reasons to Watch
- Juuse sighting? Pekka Rinne has been outstanding the last two games, but this is the New Predator Way, where we don’t tire out Rinne and we win overtime games. GIVE ME SAROS!
- See if Matt Irwin gets the start again. I talked about how he is really the best option on the 3rd pairing the other day and he certainly played like it on Thursday. In just over 10 minutes on ice, he had a blocked shot, a takeaway, two shots on goal, and was 50.0% in even strength shot attempt differential. That’s ideal 5th/6th defenseman stats.
- James Neal is heating up. The usual narrative is that he scores in bunches, so be expected something from HJN tonight.
The Important Details
6:00 PM puck drop on FS-TN and 102.5 The Game