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Nashville Predators @ Edmonton Oilers Preview: A Western Clash in Oil Country

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The Predators travel further west to face off against the Edmonton Oilers tonight. Mike Fisher could return to the lineup, and new kid Ryan Hartman is already clicking.

The Predators square off against the Edmonton Oilers tonight in Edmonton. Aside from the obvious underachievement in Edmonton, they’ve had some changes since the last time they came to Nashville.

Most notably (from all sides) is the addition of Pontus Aberg to Edmonton’s lineup. They lost Mark Letestu, Patrick Maroon, and Brandon Davidson and acquired some nice 2018 draft picks. Letestu was flipped to Columbus. More on Aberg is below.

Tonight is another game in which the Predators can continue to separate themselves from the rest of the Central Division. They’re currently four points above Winnipeg with one less game played. They proved themselves against the Jets and likely have a ton of confidence going into this back-to-back.

The Nashville Predators

Even with Pekka Rinne’s absolute dominance of Edmonton recently, I’d expect the taller Finn to enjoy a day of rest while young Juuse Saros gets the start against Edmonton. Both have excellent save percentages, and Rinne has been absolutely on fire recently. I’m sure he’d like some of those goals back from the Jets game, though.

The most beautiful captain Roman Josi had 5 assists on Tuesday evening, tying the team record for points in a single game. Craig Smith notched two more goals, bringing his goals for the season to 20. Mattias Ekholm added another goal to his career-high record, too. Kyle Turris was shooting pucks so fast that they were on fire. These guys are rolling right now.

New kid Ryan Hartman tapped home the game winning goal on Tuesday off a beautiful shot-pass from Josi. He seems to already be clicking with his teammates, and it definitely appears that Hartman wants to be a big part of this team. The only thing left to figure out is whether Hartman or Scott Hartnell will be called “Hartsy” and who will get another nickname.

Ryan Hartman

Noticeably cooler Filip Forsberg is due for a goal-scoring binge. He has 17 goals going into March.

We could very likely see Mike Fisher take the ice tonight on the fourth line. To make room for new acquisition Ryan Hartman, Mikka Salomaki was a healthy scratch. It could very well be that Colton Sissons takes a seat alongside Salomaki tonight to make room for the former captain. While this isn’t ideal, the forward depth of Nashville is absolutely required in order to make it through the playoffs. Fisher will probably play limited minutes until he gets back up to game speed.

Tonight’s game is the first of a back-to-back. The Predators will immediately jet off to Vancouver for a Friday night contest against the Canucks.

The Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton lost to San Jose on Tuesday, breaking a three-game win streak. They’ve been relatively underwhelming this season, and right now, they’re looking at AHL talent in order to prepare for next season.

Connor McDavid leads his team with 75 points, including 28 goals. Leon Draisaitl has 20 goals, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 16 goals and 31 points.

Former Predator Aberg has slotted onto a line with Jesse Puljujarvi, and he had an assist in his first game as an Oiler on Tuesday. Hopefully he can find a place on Edmonton’s young and speedy roster.

Goaltender Cam Talbot has a .903 SVC, and backup Al Montoya has a .894 SVC. Their performance is indicative of the team’s overall struggles this season. Edmonton is still building, but they will be a powerhouse once they’re built.

Memories and Feelings

-Hi, Pontus! We wish you luck in Edmonton!

-Juuse Saros grabbed his second career shutout in the last trip to Edmonton in December 2017, setting a franchise record for the most saves in a shutout. See below for highlights:

Reasons to Watch

-Thursday night hockey at a later hour for our friends who live in Mountain or Pacific time!

Tonight’s Theme Song

“Real World” by Matchbox 20. (I’m on a 90s music binge right now, don’t judge me.)

How to Watch

Tonight’s game will be on Fox Sports-TN, and 102.5 The Game has the radio call. Puck drop is at the later time of 8 pm Central.