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Nashville Predators vs. Boston Bruins: Battle of the Playoff Contenders

The Nashville Predators maintained 3rd in the Central division Monday night and are looking to close in on Minnesota. Meanwhile the Boston Bruins are trying to hold on to the last Wild Card spot in the East.

Boston Bruins v Nashville Predators Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The Nashville Predators rolled through Brooklyn last night and defeated the New York Islanders. They’ll be looking to extend their winning streak to five games when they take on the Boston Bruins tonight.

The Bruins are still fending off the New York Islanders to clinch the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Bruins have been holding their own in an increasingly competitive Eastern Conference. While the Isles maybe falling too far behind after their loss to the Preds, the Bruins won’t be looking to leave anything to chance.

Boston Bruins

The Bruins have streaked their way through the entire season. Only being able to string a few wins together at a time, the only option this close to the playoffs is to win. While the Predators may have helped widen the gap between the Bruins and the Islanders, expect to see some desperate hockey in Boston.

Earlier this season, everyone’s favorite player to hate Brad Marchand was leading the league in goals. He still has some breathing room at number three behind Sidney Crosby and Nikita Kucherov. The Predators will need to play some tight defense to shut him down. James Neal has been out of the East for a while, but expect some old tempers to flair between these one time rivals.

Tuuka Rask suffered a lower-body injury late last week and missed the Bruins’ win over the Islanders on Saturday. Boston has high hopes their number one net-minder will return tonight to help them string together another set of wins and solidify their Wild Card spot.

Marchand is miles in front of the rest of the Bruins offense, Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara are leading Boston’s defense. Chara was even nominated for the Masterton Trophy yesterday. While Patrice Bergeron is having an average season compared to Marchand, he’s still an offensive powerhouse with 49 points and 17 goals. The Predators will have their work cut out for them tonight.

Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators have found a solid stride lately. After dismantling the San Jose Sharks over the weekend, and cutting down the New York Islanders another notch last night, the Predators will be looking to throw a wrench in Boston’s plans to tighten their grip on their Wild Card Spot.

It’s been a long time coming, but the Predators are finally starting to look like the team that was promised at the beginning of the season. Fortunately it’s not too little too late as the Preds have taken over the third spot in the Central.

Viktor Arvidsson has been outstanding. There really are not enough good things to say about him. Paired with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg, he’s proved that he belongs on the Predators top line. He’s scored three times as many goals as he did last season, and the league still isn’t sure how to handle him. Most underestimate him for his size and Nashville has no problem exploiting that.

Juuse Saros took the start against the Isles Monday night, which means Pekka Rinne will get the start tonight against fellow Finnish net-minder Tuuka Rask. Rinne doesn’t always get the credit he deserves but there is no denying he’s been solid going into the final stretch.

Both Boston and Nashville have their share of talent, but they both also have their share of consistency problems. Tonight will prove who’s figured theirs out and is ready for the playoffs.

Reasons to Watch

  • Kevin Fiala - He has gone above and beyond lately, and really proved that he belongs on this team. If he can keep up his momentum it’s going to be fun watching him shine.
  • Viktor Arvidsson - I don’t think anyone can stop this kid. No one. Just when you think he’s peeked he goes and proves you wrong.
  • Pekka Rinne - Rinne and Rask are teammates when it comes to the Finnish team, but it’s always fun to see them face off against one another. Not to mention they have Saros hot on their heels. Viva La Finland!

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Sights and Sounds

Puck drops at 6:00 p.m. CST in Boston. Catch it on FS-TN or listen-in one 102.5 The Game.