The Nashville Predators will face the New York Islanders in Brooklyn tonight on the worst ice in the NHL. Winners of three straight, including a dominant 7-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, the Predators are in prime form with the playoffs quickly approaching.
On the other hand, the New York Islanders are two points behind the Boston Bruins for the final Wild Card spot out in the Eastern Conference. With less wins in regulation, they would still need more points than the Bruins. Going 5-5-0 over their last ten games, they haven’t been taking control over their own destiny.
With eight games left in their schedule, the New York Islanders would take a huge blow to their playoff aspirations if they lose tonight. Since we want the good guys in gold to solidify their position as third in the Central Division and also despise hearing about teams from New York all the time, let’s hope the Predators pick up a big road win.
New York Islanders
While some considered this team dead in the water a few months ago, the Islanders have managed to play more consistent hockey to climb up into a playoff spot. However, since achieving that position, their consistency that brought them to a playoff spot has vanished, now sitting two points out of the playoffs.
Superstar center John Tavares continues to be the most wasted talent in the NHL, playing on a team that simply cannot keep up with him. When you watch Tavares play, it is clear how dominant he can be. He’s fast, strong, has a great reach. Oh, and he scores goals too. Currently, he has 28 goals and 65 points on the season.
Joshua Ho-Sang, a recent addition to the Islanders, has been a welcome and excellent addition. While a lot was made of him wearing #66, the criticism from the NHL old boys’ club never fazed Ho-Sang, putting up 8 points in his first 13 games. Not bad for a rookie getting his first licks of NHL action at the end of the season.
Although the Islanders have their share of top-six talent, the bottom half of their lineup has really been what’s preventing this team from maintaining a playoff spot. They only have five skaters with more than thirty points. Without depth, it’s tough to make the playoffs, let alone stay in them if you make it.
The Predators absolutely thrashed the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night, defeating them by an impressive 7-2 scoreline. The victory sealed a perfect three-win homestand. Now 6-2-2 in their last ten games, the Predators are starting to look like the team people expected them to be at the start of the season.
The great exception to that last statement has been Viktor Arvidsson, who set a franchise record with his 5th shorthanded goal of the season and 28th overall. The shorthanded goal record is indicative of simply how hard Arvidsson works every second he takes the ice. Who could have predicted that he’d be neck-and-neck with linemates Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg in the race for the top scoring Predator this season?
Pekka Rinne has also been terrific down the stretch, mostly because the defense in front of him isn’t allowing teams the appalling scoring chances that they were previously letting occur. There should be no doubt that the goalie’s crease is his come the playoffs.
Mike Fisher skated yesterday and is likely to return, thus bumping Colton Sissons down to either the fourth line or out of the lineup completely. The latter would be a shame, as Sissons made the most of his promotion to the second line, scoring three goals over two games and showing immediate chemistry with Colin Wilson and Craig Smith. Hopefully Head Coach Peter Laviolette will still keep Sissons on the fourth line and in the starting roster.
Reasons to Watch
- Filip Forsberg holds a one goal lead over Viktor Arvidsson for the Predators’ goal scoring title. Ryan Johansen has two points over Arvidsson and three over Forsberg for the overall team scoring lead. It should be a fun race to the finish.
- For absolutely no logical reason at all, I feel like Kevin Fiala is due for a big game. I just can’t shake the feeling; he’s been playing very well.
- With the St. Louis Blues playing a weak Arizona Coyotes team later tonight, it is likely that the Predators will need a win tonight to stay third in the Central Division.
Gameday Hockey Lingo Word of the Day
Definition: A celebration. After a goal, players will sometimes perform an excellent celly, such as P.K. Subban’s classic punch-out goal celebration. However, one can also celly at other times, such as after a win by sharing a triple-low-five with your goaltender*.
*= Unless you play for Montreal.
Example: “When you score, are you going to use the ‘phone call’ celly to try and get Sarah’s number?”
Sights and Sounds
The puck drops at 6:00 p.m. CST in New York City. The Predators will be televised on FS-TN or you can catch them on the radio at 102.5 The Game.