The Predators face off against a Western Conference opponent tonight. The Golden Knights can’t really be considered a foe, but they are certainly a dangerous team that the Predators have yet to solve this season.
The last time these teams met, the Predators couldn’t summon up any points and were shut out in Vegas. Let’s hope for a better result in the last of the 3 meetings between these teams in the regular season. It’s very likely the Golden Knights will see the playoffs based on their season’s success.
The Vegas Golden Knights
Led in points by Jonathan Marchessault with a ridiculous 16 goals and 25 assists, the Knights are not the team everyone expected them to be this season. They lead the Western Conference with 61 points, followed by Winnipeg and Nashville.
The return of Marc-Andre Fleury has certainly sparked some confidence in this team after floating between 3 rookie goaltenders while Fluery was injured. This team of outcasts is led in points by William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, David Perron, and James Neal. This team just does not stop.
The Predators will have their hands full with this team and have to be prepared for their fast offense and quick puck-moving skills.
In their most recent outing against the Edmonton Oilers, the Golden Knights took away one point in an overtime loss.
In other Golden Knights news, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and forward James Neal were recently named to the 2018 All-Star Game. Points leader Marchessault just signed a contract worth $30 million over 6 years.
The Nashville Predators
Fresh from a five day break, the Predators were back at practice on Monday. Things were looking up, with lots of speed and energy at the open practice held at Ford Ice Center.
#Preds forward lines at practice:— Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) January 15, 2018
Then, this happened:
Viktor Arvidsson helped off the ice at #Preds practice by two trainers. Not putting weight on his leg.— Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) January 15, 2018
Now, this might just be a minor injury for young Viktor Arvidsson, but another injury on top of Filip Forsberg’s hand injury is just not good news right now. Expect a recall for Frederick Gaudreau if Arvidsson is not healed up enough to skate Tuesday morning in practice. Don’t panic, folks. (Everyone panics anyway because of impending snow doom and Arvidsson injuries).
Fresh from a three-game trip to Milwaukee for some games, the Predators recalled Juuse Saros to Nashville. He should be getting a few more starts as the season continues in order to...*dun dun*...rest Pekka Rinne.
My personal list of players who MUST step up as this season continues: Colton Sissons, Pontus Aberg, and Scott Hartnell. Make of that list what you will, but the fact remains that the Predators will increasingly count on depth scoring with injuries to Forsberg and Arvidsson.
Now that the defensive corps is back together, expect some shuffling of the defensive pairs as Coach Laviolette looks for combinations that work the best for the bottom 3 d-men: Yannick Weber, Matt Irwin, and Anthony Bitetto.
This game has the possibility of setting the tone for the remainder of the 2017-2018 season. Like I always say in my previews... let’s do this, boys.
Memories and Feelings
There really aren’t that many good memories for the Predators against the Golden Knights. You can consider Malcom Subban starting a game against his big brother P.K. a good memory, and you can wish that James Neal hadn’t been selected by the Knights in last year’s Expansion Draft.
Let’s make some good memories tonight with some huge goals for the second half of the season!
Reasons to Watch
Can the Predators gain some momentum, even with injuries? This game is the first of four games at home before the Predators close out January with a road game in New Jersey and a final home game against Chicago.
Tonight’s Theme Song
“Then the Morning Comes” by SmashMouth. Tonight, the Preds face off against a formidable opponent after five days of vacation and relaxing. This could either be a great morning (evening?) or a rude awakening for Nashville.
How to Watch
Tonight’s game can be viewed on Fox Sports-TN. If you’re away from a TV, listen to the radio call on 102.5 The Game. Puck drop is at 7 pm.