Sunday was a fun morning/afternoon for all of us. Pekka Rinne was perfect, and the Predators looked absolutely unstoppable against the St. Louis Blues. Several players are boasting point streaks, including Craig Smith and Roman Josi. The Blues were stomped and returned to St. Louis facing some big questions about their remaining season.
Tonight, the Predators face a tougher opponent in Winnipeg. This game starts a 4-game road trip for Nashville.
The 5-game series with Winnipeg is split evenly between the two teams. The Predators will face the Jets three more times between now and April.
The Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg has won their last two contests against St. Louis and Dallas. They’ve recently been blowing out opponents, similar to Nashville. They're 37-16-9, and they’ve played two more games than the Predators.
Patrik Laine is still absolutely lethal, having sniped two laser goals past Ben Bishop on Saturday. He has 31 goals this season. Yikes. Blake Wheeler has 71 points this season, including 18 goals and 54 assists. Oh my. 9 players have over 30 points. The Jets could be the best team in the Central that’s NOT the Nashville Predators.
Connor Hellebuyck has a .924 save percentage. He’s played in 51 games this season. Steve Mason and Michael Hutchinson have played 13 games combined.
The Jets still pose a threat to the Predators as the final 20-ish games of the season are played. Tonight’s game will be a good measuring stick for the Predators as they move forward with the addition of Mike Fisher. We aren’t sure when Fisher will first suit up, but expect it to be on this road trip.
There were rumors that they were interested in Mark Letestu, whom the Predators traded Pontus Aberg for and then quickly flipped to Columbus. Other rumors suggested the Jets were looking at the Canadiens for some trade options.
After Sunday’s blowout against the Blues, the Jets picked up Paul Stastny from St. Louis on Monday. This addition bolsters Winnipeg’s already dangerous lineup. They’re quite formidable with the addition of Statsny, but it’s nothing Nashville can’t handle. He could join the team when they face the Predators tonight.
The Nashville Predators
Sunday morning’s matinee shutout was a ton of fun. The nationally broadcast game showed off the strength of the boys in gold and our taller goaltender. I was absolutely impressed by Kevin Fiala’s 20th goal of the season, seen below.
The Predators signed forward Mike Fisher on Monday. He could be a missing piece for this team moving forward. He may not be a flashy 40-goal winger, but he’s a known quantity who can grind out minutes, lay out big hits, and add leadership to the locker room.
Around lunch on Monday, the Predators acquired Ryan Hartman from the Chicago Blackhawks for Viktor Ejdsell and a first round pick. Many of us are not sure about this trade, and we will have to wait to see how things materialize on the ice. Hartman could skate tonight, and Fisher could take the ice tonight or later this week.
This means the Predators will have adequate forward depth in Mikka Salomaki and Colton Sissons. This is absolutely necessary according to GM David Poile. I trust Poile with his moves this trade deadline, and we will have to see how these changes and line combinations affect the team moving forward.
Expect Rinne to take this start against the Jets. He secured his 6th shutout of the season on Sunday, the 49th of his career.
Aside from taking too many penalties on Sunday, the Predators don’t have an obvious weak point in their game right now. Passing is crisp and team chemistry continues to develop as big things happen on the ice. Goaltending remains the backbone of the team, and it’s up to our guys to protect Rinne’s crease and play well in front of him. We’ve seen plenty of that in their last two outings.
Memories and Feelings
-The last game against Winnipeg was not fantastic. Let’s secure a big road win to start this road trip off right!
-More big shutouts for Pekka?
Reasons to Watch
-Tonight’s game puts the best of the Central Division head-to-head.
-Line combination roulette?
Tonight’s Theme Song
“Cooler Than Me” by Mike Posner. The Jets are not nearly as cool as the Predators, although they’d like to be.
How to Watch
Tonight’s game is on Fox Sports-TN. You can catch the radio call on 102.5 The Game. Puck drop is at 7 pm Central.