On the second half of a back-to-back, the Nashville Predators face off against the Ottawa Senators tonight. Having just faced Toronto on Wednesday night, the Predators might be a little gassed tonight. Perhaps after struggling early against the Leafs, the Predators will play with a little fire to begin tonight’s game.
Tonight is, of course, Kyle Turris’s first trip to Ottawa after his trade in early November to Nashville. It’s sure to be an emotional night for Turris, who impacted the Ottawa community in numerous ways.
The Senators, however, last played Tuesday in a dramatic win over the New Jersey Devils.
Nashville dropped last night’s game against the Maple Leafs in an eight-round shootout. A slow first period didn’t really help the Predators against a talented Toronto team. A quick goal in the third by Viktor Arvidsson forced overtime and a shootout, but Leafs goaltender Frederick Andersen stole the game for Toronto.
The Nashville Predators
With Filip Forsberg suspended until Saturday’s game, the Predators have found ways to add goals without the Prince. On Monday, those goals came from Kevin Fiala (now tied for team lead in goals), Roman Josi, Ryan Johansen, and Calle Jarnkrok. Such is the luxury of having forward depth, although no one shoots quite like Forsberg.
Pekka Rinne looked merely average on Monday night, and his team didn’t help him too much last night. He was stellar late in the game, in overtime, and in the shootout. Luckily, Rinne should get tonight off and young Juuse Saros should get the start. He can boast a .927 save percentage this season, and his stellar play makes the coaches more willing to rest Rinne.
P.K. Subban is still atop the team in points with 41, followed closely by Forsberg and Fiala. There are seven Predators with over 30 points. He took a weird fall late in the game against the Maple Leafs, but he finished the game. Hopefully Mr. Subban is ok.
With Forsberg out, expect to see more line shuffling. Pontus Aberg has re-entered the lineup. Aberg always seems like he has the right mindset, but he’s never in the right place at the right time. Many fans are wondering if he’s ever going to find his place on our lineup. He assisted on Sissons’ first goal last night, and more play like that will inspire a little more confidence in him.
Several guys are in limbo on the lower lines, including Aberg, Colton Sissons, and Miikaa Salomaki. Sissons added another February goal last night. Recently, they’ve all been playing with fire because their spot in the lineup could quickly disappear once Mike Fisher enters the lineup.
Counter to Monday’s outing against the Islanders, the Predators will look to reduce their penalties tonight and stay out of the box.
The Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators were one overtime goal away from facing the Predators last post-season in the Stanley Cup Final. Truth be told, I would have much rather faced the Senators than the Penguins. Most folks probably feel the same.
The stellar play of Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson and Vezina finalist Craig Anderson have not been as apparent this season. Anderson is below-average, and after returning from ankle surgery, Karlsson has struggled to achieve the same level of success as last season. He is third on the team with 5 goals and 30 assists, good for 35 points.
In the offseason, the Senators acquired defenseman Johnny Oduya from Chicago. He has two goals and four assists this season.
In November, the Senators, Predators, and Avalanche were involved in a monster three-way deal that saw Matt Duchene head to the Senators. Colorado received Samuel Girard and Vladislav Kamenev from the Predators, as well as some picks and prospects from Ottawa. The best part of this deal saw Kyle Turris sign a solid six-year contract with Nashville and fill a center need on the second line. It’s very early to determine who the winner of this trade is, but Turris in Nashville has been an immediate success. Turris himself can score, but he also has opened up scoring for his linemates Fiala and Craig Smith.
Other Senators players have been the subject of trade speculation recently. Mike Hoffman and J.G. Pageau have come up in trade deadline conversation, and it’s not even clear whether Karlsson himself will be in Ottawa next season.
Through all this tumult, the Senators have put up a record of 18-25-9 this season. They’re led in points by Mark Stone with 44, followed by Hoffman with 36. Duchene has 9 goals and 11 assists this season.
As mentioned earlier, Craig Anderson has been a shadow of his 2016-2017 post-season self. He has a .903 SVC, and his backup Mike Condon isn’t faring too much better with a .902%. Anderson has two shutouts this season.
After a ridiculous altercation with New Jersey’s Taylor Hall on Tuesday, Alexandre Burrows was suspended for ten games. He will not be available beginning tonight against Nashville. Burrows basically kneed Hall in the head.
Ottawa’s Alexandre Burrows suspended ten games for serving as an aggressor/ kneeing New Jersey’s Taylor Hall. https://t.co/yNb4Wp7z5A— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) February 8, 2018
Memories and Feelings
-Remember when Predators Twitter was absolutely certain we’d secure Matt Duchene?
-This will be Kyle Turris’s first trip home to Ottawa since he was traded in November. Hopefully there’s a tribute video.
-Check out Adam Vingan’s story in The Tennessean about Turris’s impact in the Ottawa community. (PS: this just further solidifies my theory that Kyle Turris is the nicest guy ever.)
Reasons to Watch
-Hockey on back-to-back WEEKnights? I can’t think of anything better to make the week go by faster!
Tonight’s Theme Song
“Something Like This” by the Chainsmokers and Coldplay.
The Preds should continue to look within themselves for the confidence they need to win games. Cheesy thought, but also true. Keep it up, boys.
How to Watch
Tonight’s game will be on Fox Sports-TN. 102.5 The Game will have the radio call. Tonight’s game is another early game. Puck drop is at 6:30 Central. (Thanks, Eastern Canada!)