Tonight the Nashville Predators (22-14-2) host the upstart New York Rangers (15-14-7) at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators returned from the Christmas break on Thursday night and lost convincingly 2-0 against the Dallas Stars. The New York Rangers also played. falling to the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3.
The New York Rangers
Despite not holding a playoff spot, the air around the Rangers this season has been increasingly optimistic. This is largely due to new head coach David Quinn, formerly of Boston University, who has given young players like Filip Chytil more opportunities to shine. At the same time, he has not put players in situations where they are expected to fail. His youth management has been exceptional for this team that is clearly building for the future.
Henrik Lundqvist remains the anchor for this Rangers team. The Swedish netminder holds a .913 save percentage and a 2.87 goals against average. With as poor of a defense as this Rangers team has, those numbers are incredibly impressive. In fact, one could also point to him as a reason why Quinn has been able to invest so heavily into his youth: Lundqvist just erases so many mistakes.
Many people have their eyes on Mats Zuccarello as a prized asset come the trade deadline. With 13 points in 23 games, Zuccarello is finally healthy and producing again, picking up an assist in the Rangers’ last game against the Blue Jackets. He is 31 years old and playing sometimes more than 20 minutes a night, so he is certainly getting the most mileage for his money. Some pundits believe that the right-winger would be a good fit for the Predators; tonight you can watch and make your own opinion.
The Nashville Predators
In their last ten games, the Predators are 3-6-1, falling from first place in the NHL to second in the Central Division. Although they have been dealing with their fair share of injuries, many of the problems stayed the same: a defensive system that fails to prevent high-danger chances and an atrocious power play.
Despite high hopes, these are problems that were exposed last season and never corrected. While some expressed criticism of these areas earlier in the season, the fact that the Predators were still winning games seemed to invalidate such opinions. However, like a virus lurking and waiting, the problems persisted and now have resulted in the symptom of losing.
Last game marked the returns of P.K. Subban and Viktor Arvidsson, both of whom are absolutely vital to the Predators’ success. Even though the Predators still lost, it was only the first game back for them and they probably need another few games to get their full stride back. Still, their health is an absolute boon for a team badly in need of some light at the end of the tunnel.
Reasons to Watch
- This is the first weekend game since the Christmas break! Go enjoy seeing Predators hockey again!
- If you want to watch a potential Predators trade target, Mats Zuccarello is there for you!
- Viktor Arvidsson is playing again, so your heart could leap for joy while watching hockey again.
Still back home in Milwaukee, I will be enjoying some goulash courtesy of the oldest, most classic German restaurant in town: Mader’s. Located right by the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena where the Admirals play, it’s a fancier place to hit up before a game. However, if you want classic, German Milwaukee food, there is no better spot in town.
Sights and Sounds
The game is in Bridgestone Arena at 7:00ct. Fox Sports South will televise the game while 102.5 The Game will carry it over the air.