On the last stop of their eastern Canadian road trip, the Predators face a struggling Montreal team at home at the Bell Centre.
Their last three games have required extra time. That’s likely exhausting, so hopefully tonight’s game can be finished in 60 minutes. With that, hopefully the Predators can play a full 60 minutes instead of skating on their heels in the first half of the game.
Last night’s single point put the Predators in a tie with the Winnipeg Jets at the top of the Central Division, and the Preds have a few games in hand. It seems like Central teams keep winning.
The Nashville Predators
We last saw our Predators in Ottawa. They forced overtime after tying the game late in the third period, but could not find a goal in extra time. Juuse Saros looked a little rusty, likely from not playing, and the Predators seemed like they didn’t want to play hockey until the middle of the second period.
Tonight, Filip Forsberg returns to the lineup after his joke of a three-game suspension. Most of us are hoping for some hateful goals from the Prince, and the Predators need to secure a win on their last game of this road trip.
Calle Jarnkrok and Nick Bonino have been fairly lethal lately, and P.K. Subban just tied a career-high in goals. There’s been a fair bit of line shuffling, but with the return of Forsberg, the lines could settle back to their usual structure. The return of Forsberg likely indicates Pontus Aberg will be a healthy scratch tonight.
The power play has been lackluster recently. As Subban noted Thursday evening, the Predators must play more than 40 minutes out of 60 to win a hockey game.
Viktor Arvidsson has been on a tear recently, as has Colton Sissons. Perhaps both players can add more points tonight. One other note to include is the prowess of our centermen: their faceoff win percentage is absolutely awesome this season.
The Montreal Canadiens
Montreal is 22-26-3 on the season. They’ve been all over the place, frustrating fans and teams alike with their mercurial play.
The Canadiens dropped their Thursday evening contest against Philadelphia. The ridiculously good Carey Price of last season has regressed into average Carey Price, and he’s backed up by Antti Niemi. The Predators faced Niemi in net last fall.
Captain Max Pacioretty leads his team with 33 points. Alex Galchenyuk has 32 points, and newcomer Jonathan Droiun has 27 points.
The Habs have struggled this season, and they’re not likely to make the playoffs. Pacioretty has been mentioned as a trading chip, but understanding their management’s plan is similar to understanding quantum physics. Pacioretty could fetch a very high return, including current players, picks, and prospects. Many Cup-seeking teams could use his talents on the wing.
Our favorite former Predator Shea Weber has 16 points on the season, but he has not skated since early December. A foot injury sidelined the tough-as-nails Weber. Luckily, he’s been skating before team practices, but it could be March before he’s skating with the team again.
Carey Price has a .906 save percentage over 39 games and Niemi has a .929 in 6 games.
Memories and Feelings
- P.K. Subban will likely feel things every time he walks into the Bell Centre. The defenseman is still very much involved in Montreal, especially with the Children’s Hospital. He has many fans still wearing red jerseys with #76 on them, and he’s as well-loved in Montreal as he is in Nashville.
- In late November, the game against Montreal required a shootout goal from Kyle Turris to secure a victory. It left me rather frustrated because the Predators didn’t put 7-8 goals behind Niemi. Let’s get two points in regulation, boys.
Reasons to Watch
- Saturday night hockey! In one of the biggest hockey venues in Canada, tonight’s game is sure to be big.
- Take a break from watching Olympic curling (which is cool) and luge (which seems scary) to watch your favorite non-Olympics-attending athletes play hockey (which sucks).
Tonight’s Theme Song
One of my high school friends got me into the band Of Montreal in 2008. I chose one of their jams for tonight’s theme: “Disconnect the Dots.”
How to Watch
- Tonight’s game begins at 6 pm Central. You can catch the game on the NHL Network or Fox Sports-TN, and the radio call will be on 102.5 The Game.