The Predators’ road trip is almost over. Next up is the holiday break, a few more days for bones to knit back together and whatever is wrong with everyone else to heal. After that, it’s two games back in the friendly environs of Bridgestone Arena before the Preds head back onto the road for New Year’s Eve.
But first, there’s one more game.
The Boston Bruins:
Like the Predators, the Bruins have been dealing with injuries this season. Patrice Bergeron, fourth on the team in points despite having played just 19 of the Bruins’ 35 games this season, is a game-time decision for today. Zdeno Chára is also on the injured list but is not considered likely to return.
The Bruins have also been playing at a similar pace and with similar chances for goals as the Predators this season, especially lately. They take slightly fewer shots than the Preds and allow slightly more, but overall they’re getting a few more shots from slightly better locations—which is surprising, given how many shots they take from the point. This game could easily turn into Spiderman Pointing At Spiderman.
Boston’s power play looks fairly uninspiring but when they get shots on goal, they convert them. Their penalty kill is bad, and they’re not getting the goaltending to make up for it. The rest of the time, though, they’ve been getting decent goaltending from Tuukka Rask, who has a .915 all-situations sv% and has been alternating starts with [checks notes] Jaroslav Halák, who’s posted a sparkling .930. Halák is having a career season at [checks notes again] 33 years of age. Neither goalie has had a great December, though, with Halák finally looking mortal and Rask not looking much better.
At the other end of the ice, David Pastrnak leads the team in goals (22) and points (44), and has more goals at even strength than any one of his teammates has goals total. Brad Marchand leads the team in assists (25) and has added eleven goals of his own. David Krejci, centering the top line in Bergeron’s absence, is third on the team in points, with 30, and defender Torey Krug has contributed well offensively as well—he has 21 points.
After that, the dropoff is steep. Jake DeBrusk, who has missed the last two weeks with a concussion and has no timetable for return, is the only other Bruins player with double digits in points—he has twelve.
The Nashville Predators:
The Predators have lower highs and higher lows than the Bruins. Fourteen of their players have scored ten or more points, compared to just six for the Bruins, but they have four instead of five twenty-point scorers—two of whom are defenders—and zero instead of two players with more than thirty. The Bruins’ top line is making noise almost every night; the Preds’ top line has been a dull whimper lately.
Even with the injuries, the Preds’ play lately has been beyond bad. They enter today’s matinee having lost the first three games of this road trip to the Ottawa Senators, who are bad; the Chicago Blackhawks, who are bad; and the Philadelphia Flyers, who held the Predators to one goal (5v5) in a game in which the Preds had almost ten minutes on the power play, including four full minutes with a two-man advantage. I don’t want to talk about it. You don’t want to think about it. Let’s just move on.
Colton Sissons joined teammates Viktor Arvidsson, P.K. Subban, and Filip Forsberg on the injured reserve yesterday, with a foot or ankle injury sustained in the game against Chicago. We can hope that Mattias Ekholm, who missed Thursday’s game due to illness, will be well enough to play today.
Reasons to Watch:
- Solid chance of a Finnish-Finnish goalie matchup, which is always fun.
- I for one am looking forward to seeing how the Bruins have squashed Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson’s name onto his jersey.
- Matinee games mean it’s too late to sleep in and too early to go partying, at least for most people.
How to Watch:
The game starts at noon CT. Watch it on FS-TN or listen on 102.5 The Game, or fly out to Boston to watch it live. (Don’t fly out to Boston. I hear there’s weather there.)