The Nashville Predators being a two-game road-trip ending their regular season tonight as they travel to face the Dallas Stars. The Stars, winners of the Central Division last season, failed to follow up on their success and did not make the playoffs this year.
Last game, having already clinched a playoff spot, Predators head coach Peter Laviolette tinkered with the lines a bit. Will we see more changes as the Predators gear up for the playoffs?
The Dallas Stars
In what has been a disappointing season for the Dallas Stars by all metrics, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are not returning to Texas this season. Despite having superstar forwards like Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, the Stars have been done in by poor management and goaltending.
There has been no secret among the league that the Stars have one of the worst goaltending situations in the entire league. Spending around $10 million between Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi, the two goaltenders respectively hold GAA’s of 2.80 and 3.25. Furthermore, outside of John Klingberg, the Dallas defense has been horrid at helping their bad goaltending out. Despite these problems, Dallas instead this past summer signing forwards and depth pieces. While other teams in the Central Division improved, the Stars did not. Accordingly, they are not in the playoffs.
The Nashville Predators
Miika Salomaki? Brad Hunt? Dreams came true Tuesday as two Predators who hadn’t received ice time in a long time finally got to play. Salomaki in particular looked phenominal, making his opponents remember why he’s called “the Finnish Wrecking Ball” just minutes into the game. He plays like he’s half a foot taller than he really is and brings tons of energy to the lineup. With his speed and hustle, he’s essentially a faster Cody McLeod that takes fewer penalties.
Tuesday night there were a lot of odd, errant turnovers that nearly lead to chances. However, a lot of those turnovers can be chalked up to the line adjustments, as not everyone may have developed chemistry with one another yet. Fans shouldn’t worry if that trend continues tonight so long as Laviolette continues to test new line combinations out.
The chances that the Predators play the Wild are incredibly slim, as it appears that the Blues have third in the division safely locked up. Is there really a big difference between facing the Blackhawks in the first round or traveling out to the west coast? I think both of those options are equally challenging. Accordingly, I have no problem with Laviolette tinkering around with his lineup these last few games just so that he knows all the cards he’s bringing to the table come next week.
Reasons to Watch
- Will Juuse Saros start tonight? It may be a good idea to give Pekka more rest coming into the playoffs.
- I’m sorry Arvidsson, but there’s no Predator that I’m enjoying watching more than Kevin Fiala. He’s oozing with the skill we all knew he had.
- However, Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen, and Filip Forsberg are all still killing it on the first line. While Tuesday wasn’t their greatest game, hopefully they bounce back tonight.
- Salomaki. So hot right now. Salomaki.
Gameday Hockey Lingo Word of the Day
Definition: A breakout where, upon winning a defensive zone face-off, the center plays the puck back to a defenseman who in turn fires the puck behind the net to the opposite side of the ice, where a winger should be positioned.
Example: “With his hustle, Miika Salomaki is always in position to receive his pass from the wheel.”
Sights and Sounds
The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. CST in Dallas. The Predators will be televised on FS-TN or you can catch them on the radio at 102.5 The Game.