The Predators will skate in Bridgestone Arena for the first time of the 2018-2019 season tonight. You can bet it will be packed with a sea of gold-clad fans.
The Nashville Predators
Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros both picked up a win on the road in New York. Expect Rinne in net tonight, but Saros could see a start at some point in the remaining three games.
P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm lead all defenseman in points in this very young season. Viktor Arvidsson has two goals, and Craig Smith and Filip Forsberg have a goal each.
Anthony Bitetto slotted in the lineup for Dan Hamhuis on Saturday. Which third pair will we see tonight? Weber-Hamhuis or Weber-Bitetto? Extra defenseman Matt Irwin has not skated in the regular season yet.
Monday’s practice lines suggest that Kevin Fiala will return to his usual spot on a line with Kyle Turris and Smith. Nick Bonino, Calle Jarnkrok, and Ryan Hartman form the third line.
Already bothersome are the penalties taken by the Predators. While the penalty kill has been successful, the Preds have yet to face tough competition in the Central yet. Will they get a handle on their infractions or suffer the consequences of poor discipline?
The Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames are coming into tonight’s game with one win and one loss. They are on a three game Central Division roadtrip with visits to Nashville, Colorado, and St. Louis.
Unrestricted free agent James Neal signed with Calgary in the offseason. Matthew Tkachuk is back as his usual gritty and feisty self, and Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan remain big threats on the ice. Tkachuk leads the team in points as they head into their third game.
Calgary was part of a blockbuster draft day trade. Carolina sent Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm to the Calgary in exchange for Dougie Hamilton, Michael Ferland, and prospect Adam Fox. The Flames also signed Derek Ryan and Austin Czarnik in the offseason.
Hanifin will pair up with Travis Hamonic and captain Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie round out the top four defensemen for the Flames.
In goal are Mike Smith and Dave Rittich, both average goaltenders who can put up average efforts night in and night out. Smith is 36 and didn’t have a fantastic end of the 2017-2018 season.
The Flames have a new face behind the bench in former Carolina coach Bill Peters.
Finally, Calgary has a very bright third jersey combination as seen here:
Memories and Feelings
-Hi, James Neal.
-I don’t have any particular feelings about Calgary except that I’m hoping they score fewer than 7 goals tonight.
Reasons to Watch
-Banners. Only one is missing.
-The Predators in gold.
-Vezina Trophy winner Pekka Rinne.
Tonight’s Drink of Choice
I’ll be inside the Bridge tonight, so I’ll probably be sipping on a whiskey sour.
Tonight’s Theme Song
“Happier” by Marshmello and Bastille.
Flames Social Media
-The Flames’ SB Nation site is Matchsticks & Gasoline. They’re on Twitter @MatchsticksCGY
How to Watch
Puck drop tonight will be a little after 7:00 pm. It’s Nashville’s first home game of the season, so you can expect team and staff introductions, banners, and hype videos. You can catch the game on Fox Sports-TN or hear the live radio call on 102.5 The Game.