Not much can be said about Tuesday’s blown call that hasn’t already been said. Even Carrie Underwood said some things. The one and ONLY thing that should come out of Tuesday’s loss is the anger and fire that the Predators will likely be playing with for a while.
Tonight’s matchup is against an Eastern Conference powerhouse, the Washington Capitals. They’ve been witness to Alexander Ovechkin’s success this season, and they’ve seen some great growth out of players like Evgeny Kuznetzov and Dimitry Orlov.
The Predators? Well, they’re probably more than a little salty.
The Washington Capitals
Captain Alex Ovechkin leads Washington in points this season. He has 46 goals and 38 assists, an incredible feat for the aging star. It’s clear he is more than willing to take his team past the second round of the playoffs.
Washington is 48-25-7 this season. They’ve clinched the Metropolitan Division and have a huge lead on second-place Pittsburgh in the points race.
Kuznetsov has 25 goals, Nicklas Backstrom has 20, and John Carlson has 15. They seem to be doing a similar thing as Nashville and resting guys for “maintenance” before the playoffs. It seems like Jay Beagle won’t play tonight, and Alex Ovechkin is questionable after the weird tumble he took into the boards on Monday.
Goaltender Braden Holtby hasn’t been his usual dominant self this season. He’s been benched recently in favor of backup Philip Grubauer. Grubauer has a .925 sv% over 34 games. Holtby has a .908% in 53 games. Coach Barry Trotz has been noncommittal over which goaltender he will start in the playoffs. Grubauer is more than capable of carrying this team, but it’s got to be tough for Braden Holtby to sit on the bench and watch.
T.J. Oshie is likely out for tonight’s game with a lower body injury he sustained last week.
Washington’s Cup window is closing rapidly with the age of their core. They have yet to make it past Pittsburgh in the second round, a frustration for every Caps fan. They lost a Final series in the late 90s, and it’s been difficult for them to get back ever since.
Could this be their year? I’m not sure, but I do know that Nashville won’t roll over and let Washington accumulate more points when they themselves are seeking a divisional clinch as well.
The Nashville Predators
The Predators last saw Washington before New Years in Nashville. They completed a decisive 6-3 victory over the Caps with goals from 6 different players. Washington pulled goalie Braden Holtby after the 6th goal.
Tuesday’s game should probably serve as a tool to anger and motivate the Predators as they finish out their last two regular season games and enter the playoffs. It’s evident Coach Laviolette and the players thought the call on the ice was ridiculous...because it was ridiculous.
Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson have been lighting it up recently. P.K. Subban is still quietly awesome with 58 points, and we are finally seeing goal scoring from the entire lineup.
Eeli Tolvanen has looked more comfortable the more he plays, and he had several good looks on Roberto Luongo on Tuesday. Expect a fiery goal from #Goalvanen soon.
Pekka Rinne has long been the glue that holds this team together. His last few starts have been lackluster due to poor defensive coverage and a breakdown of the system in front of him. He needs a huge game either tonight or Saturday to boost his confidence heading into the playoffs. Young Juuse Saros could reasonably face either team and give Nashville a solid shot at winning, too.
Calle Jarnkrok is still out with his upper body injury.
Memories and Feelings
-Hi, Barry Trotz!
-The biggest feeling of all is how upset LITERALLY EVERYONE was on Tuesday evening. The Predators absolutely have to respond in a big way tonight.
Reasons to Watch
-Will Nashville be motivated and angry tonight? Or will they be complacent and sullen?
-I wonder how many Nashville fans will be in DC tonight? They’re sure to be loud and capture the attention of the NBC Sports broadcasters.
-Potential Eeli Tolvanen goals.
-Potential Angry Fil/Angry Arvi/Angry Any Predator goals.
Tonight’s Theme Song
“Trouble” by Cage the Elephant.
How to Watch
Tonight’s game is a national broadcast on NBC Sports. 102.5 The Game will have the radio call, and puck drop is at 6 pm Central.