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Nashville Predators @ New Jersey Devils Preview: Respond, Then Rest

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The All-Star break is nigh... but first a trip to Newark.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Nashville Predators

The Predators will look to start another winning streak in New Jersey tonight as they take on the Devils at the Prudential Center. Though Tuesday’s result was disappointing, losing in overtime to the Lightning, the Predators have still picked up a point in seven straight games, which is definitely a good thing.

This is the last game for the Preds before the All-Star break, so it would be nice to pick up a win before next Tuesday against the Blackhawks.

The New Jersey Devils

The doormats of the Eastern Conference are no more! The Devils find themselves in 2nd place in the Metro division with a 24-15-8, five points behind the division leading Capitals.

Most of the Devils’ resurgence this season has been due to a revamped offense. Their goal scoring ranks 9th in the league, which is vastly improved from their last three seasons where they finished 28th, 30th, and 28th. A big part of that has been Taylor Hall, who finally has made the adjustment since coming over from the Oilers, but he also has a much better cast of young players around him. Guys like Miles Wood (13 goals), Jesper Bratt (12 goals), and 1st overall draft pick Nico Hischier (8 goals).

The problem for the Devils tonight? Hall won’t play, along with several other key contributors:

Marcus Johansson and Brian Boyle have been important contributors to the forward group this year, though obviously not as important as Hall. The Devils will have likely have a potpourri of skaters out there tonight, so the Preds will need to take advantage.

Will Butcher leads the Devils’ blueline in scoring, but does so mostly via the power play, leading the team with 16 power play assists. The rest of the blueline consists of newcomer Sami Vatanen (traded from Anaheim in exchange for Adam Henrique et al), Andy Greene, John Moore, and Damon Severson. These are all decent defenders, but I wouldn’t say they pose any significant threat to the Predators (especially if the offense plays like it did on Tuesday).

With Schneider out, my guess is we will see Keith Kinkaid, who it seems like the Preds always face when they play the Devils. He has a .904 career save percentage in three games against the Preds, though the Devils have gone 2-1-0 in those games.

The Nashville Predators

In case you missed it, the Preds waived Cody McLeod on Wednesday (and was subsequently picked up by the Rangers today). This means they will probably add someone to the lineup at some point. It’s too soon to tell if it will be Filip Forsberg, who is nearing a return from injury.

But they are good to go on the roster for tonight, which according to Adam Vingan might be the same lineup as Tuesday.

So it’s probably:

Aberg - Johansen - Arvidsson

Hartnell - Turris - Smith

Fiala - Bonino - Jarnkrok

Salomaki - Sissons - Watson

Josi - Ellis

Emelin - Subban

Ekholm Irwin

Also it sounds like Pekka Rinne will be starting in goal, which makes sense.

All I would like to see is a solid effort at both ends of the ice, no injuries, a few goals, and a win. Is that too much to ask?

Reasons to Watch

  • It’s your last chance to watch Predators hockey for about 5 days.
  • Speaking of 5 days, that’s how many days off Rinne has had since playing against the Panthers on Saturday. That’s an incredible amount of rest for him. I expect he should look very fresh.
  • The offense was buzzing against the Lightning on Tuesday, despite the OT loss. I’d say you see more of the same from the Preds tonight.

The Important Details

Early game! 6:00 p.m. puck drop. TV: FS-TN, Radio: 102.5 The Game.