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Nashville Predators @ Colorado Avalanche Preview: Round One Rematch

The Preds face the Avs tonight in a 2018 First Round rematch.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Cough. Reeeeeeee-match!

The Colorado Avalanche

You can bet that the Colorado Avalanche will be ready to face the Predators tonight. They are 7-4-3 and have picked back up right where they left off in the handshake line last spring. They lost to the Canucks in overtime on Friday and have had 4 days off.

There’s a new face in between the pipes for Colorado this season. Philipp Grubauer was plucked from Washington in the offseason. He’s played in 5 games for Colorado and has posted a .893 save percentage. Starter Semyon Varlamov has played in 9 games and is 4-3-2. He has a .936 sv%.

The usual culprits are at it again for Colorado. Boasting some powerful forward lines, the Avalanche are fast and score nearly at will against unsuspecting opponents.

Mikko Rantanen leads all Avs with 24 points (5 goals and 19 assists). Should-have-been League MVP Nathan MacKinnon has 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists). Gabriel Landeskog follows with 18 points (11 goals, 7 assists). Tyson Barrie leads defensemen with 11 assists. Young Samuel Girard has 1 goal and 4 assists. Offseason acquisition Ian Cole has 1 goal and 4 assists, too.

The Nashville Predators

The Predators are skating a semi-modified lineup with Viktor Arvidsson out. He was placed on IR on Tuesday but could be eligible to return at some point on the road trip if he’s healthy. Dan Hamhuis remains on IR, and Zac Rinaldo is also injured.

Pekka Rinne posted a birthday shutout and will likely be back in action against Colorado. He was less-than-stellar against the speedy Avs last spring. How will he fare tonight?

Ryan Johansen is dishing pucks all over the place. He leads the team in points with 15 (2 goals, 13 assists). Kyle Turris and Filip Forsberg are doing work, too. P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm lead defensemen in points, but Roman Josi is not far behind. Kevin Fiala is missing in action but Rocco Grimaldi is zooming all over the ice on the fourth line.

Another point of conversation lies in the third defensive pairing. Will Yannick Weber play another contest with Matt Irwin, or will Anthony Bitetto slot back into the lineup?

It goes without saying that the Predators need some work on their power play. They’ve looked abysmal in their last few attempts with the man advantage. The penalty kill has looked just fine, but the power play is in the dumpster. How does Nashville fix it?

Memories and Feelings

  • Playoff Colin Wilson and Gabriel Bourque!
  • As mentioned, the Avs will be super motivated to test themselves against the League-leading Predators.
  • Vladislav Kamenev is back in the lineup and healthy! While his contributions so far have been largely unnoticeable, hopefully he is able to further develop with the Avalanche.

Reasons to Watch

  • Samuel Girard is one of my favorite defensemen not in gold. He is a smooth skater and unafraid to pinch. However, he is probably sheltered by the incredible Avalanche first line. He starts more face-offs in the offensive zone. Would Girard’s weaknesses be exposed if he was skating on another pair? Nonetheless, Girard is an incredible d-man and he’s fun to watch.
  • If you’re up this late, you might as well watch some good hockey. It’s gonna be a good game.

Tonight’s Theme Song

“Tootsie Roll” by 69 Boyz.

It’s been stuck in my head for over two weeks and now it’s gonna be stuck in your head too!

Tonight’s Drink of Choice

Coffee in some form. 9:00 puck drops are KILLER.

How to Watch

Tonight’s game is a rather late one. Puck drop is at 9:00 Central. The game will be on NBC Sports and 102.5 The Game will have the radio call.