After a strong finish to a homestand that kicked off with a shutout loss in the home opener against the Calgary Flames (4-2-0), the Nashville Predators (5-1-0) head out to southern Alberta as they look to kick off a two-game road trip to the Canadian province with a revenge win.
The Calgary Flames
The Flames improved to a 4-2-0 record with a 5-2 home win over the Boston Bruins on the same day that Canada legalized marijuana. They’ve been very much reliant on their offense through the early going this season, outside of the games where vintage Mike Smith has shown up in net.
Many projected the Flames to finish in the bottom half of the Pacific, despite the additions of James Neal, Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, among others. Those new additions, along with the continued growth of Johnny Gaudreau, aka Johnny Hockey, have been in a huge help in the Flames’ push to return to the postseason.
Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk are tied for the team lead in points with 9, both having a point in all but one game thus far in the season. New center addition Lindholm is tied with Sean Monahan for the most goals with 4, the two of them being the goal scorers in the Flames 3-0 victory over the Preds.
When the offense is not clicking in Calgary, which is not often, the Flames have Mike Smith in net, who has continued to show flashes of his vintage self. His .889 save percentage is nothing special, but he does have a shutout against Nashville, and while the Preds struggled early on the power play, they averaged 4 goals in their first 3 games before playing the Flames.
The Flames will look to stay hot with a win before they face six straight Eastern Conference opponents, including the Atlantic-Division–leading Maple Leafs.
The Nashville Predators
Outside of their hiccup game against Calgary and early power play issues, the Preds have played like the team expected to be one of the top teams in the National Hockey League. They are averaging 4 goals per game in wins, and 3.17 goals per game over the whole season, both of which are above the league average.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for this Nashville team is the performance of their depth players. Colton Sissons, Anthony Bitetto, Dan Hamhuis, Miikka Salomaki, Nick Bonino, Calle Jarnkrok and Ryan Hartman have all recorded at least one point, which is at least one point more than second line phenom Kevin Fiala through six games. Zac Rinaldo, who has also not scored a point, has a mere 11 penalty minutes while having played in each game, and he has not been suspended—at least not yet.
Juuse Saros taking a bigger role in the goaltender rotation has also been a huge help for a team whose fans used to believe that their window closed as soon as Rinne steps away from the game. Saros is 2-0-0 with a 2.50 goals allowed average and .902 save percentage in 2 starts against the Islanders, and there’s a good chance he gets his third start in the back end of a back to back this weekend as the Preds take on the Edmonton Oilers.
With Rinne likely in net, the Preds offense will need to find ways to get through Mike Smith if they want to emerge from Calgary victorious.
Reasons To Watch
- Possible Johnny Hockey vs. Freddy Hockey matchup
- You don’t really want to see the Dodgers clinch
Sights and Sounds
The puck will drop at 8:00 CT. FSTN will have the TV broadcast, and 102.5 will broadcast the game on your radio device.