HEY! THE PREDATORS WON LAST NIGHT! That was fun, right? Are you ready to strap in for another round and hope for the same outcome? I know I am. There’s nothing that helps me forget the recent string of sloppy play and blue line clappers like a win driven by defensive scoring and outstanding goaltending. Throw a couple more wins in the pot and we’ve got ourselves a streak; add a bone with some meat left on it and baby, you got a stew goin’ on!
The Predators are coming off of a 5-2 win last night over the New York Rangers. For the first time in a long time, two major Nashville traditions stood out: stellar goaltending and offensive production from the defense. Juuse Saros stopped 41 of 43 shots, including 11 shots on the power play. At the same time, four of the Predators’ five goals came from defenders, with Roman Josi netting two, while Mattias Ekholm (making a surprise appearance after traveling separately from the team due to illness) scored an angry revenge goal fresh from the penalty box, and Ryan Ellis scored a second empty-netter (Josi had the first). The other goal came from Rocco Grimaldi, who is on pace to have his best season ever.
The Predators are still down two forwards with Viktor Arvidsson remaining on the IR list, rehabbing an injury to his lower body. It should be important to note that Arvidsson made an appearance in a non-contact jersey at practice Monday for the first time since he was brutally assaulted by known goon Robert Bortuzzo. I hate to speculate, but it would make sense that he’d like to be back on the ice for the upcoming Winter Classic. Mikael Granlund was also scratched with a LBI. Recent Milwaukee call-ups Yakov Trenin and Colin Blackwell played on the fourth line with Austin Watson.
The Predators arrive with a 15-12-5 record and have spent most of December alternating wins and losses. Many in the media have been referencing the “games in hand” the Predators have on their Central Division rivals, and if the team hopes to climb out of the cellar and into a playoff spot, now’s the time to start to string some wins together.
The Islanders, boasting a 22-7-2 record (good enough for fourth in the NHL with games in hand) are riding a three-game win streak. The Barry-Trotz–coached team is coming into Tuesday’s game very well rested, having not played since Saturday. This should give them an advantage over the Predators, who played Monday night.
What to watch for
Pekka Rinne should be in the starter’s crease, considering Saros started last night. Saros showed last night that he can get back in the zone and give a lights-out performance. It will be interesting to see if Rinne can draw inspiration from Saros and put on the same kind of show after his last few outings have been less than noteworthy.
Those of you calling for Peter Laviolette’s job can get a pretty good look at Barry Trotz. Look for Barzal’s line to be a threat any time they’re on the ice. Not sure who’ll be in goal but the Islanders’ tandem of Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov are almost identical numbers-wise with 11 wins each and GAAs of 2.16 and 2.24 respectively.
Of course, be ready for some of that Nick Bonino magic we’ve grown accustomed to this season...he aims to please and hits top cheese.
Reasons to watch
It’s December and it’s hockey! What else were you going to the do? How long has it been since the Real World/Road Rules Challenge has been on the air? The Hallmark Channel will re-air whichever movie it’s playing, I promise. Spoiler alert! They end up together. Will they get married? That’s up to you to decide! We have around 35 of them on the ol’ DVR as I write this.
Yeah, I know, the obvious choice here is Islands in the Stream by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, but the video quality sucks and I don’t want to break the internet.
What to drink
You’re probably expecting me to say a Long Island Iced Tea, but as a former bartender, I recommend a Salty Dog to go along with the Islanders’ Fisherman logo. Don’t know how to make one? Well, try this:
Start by salting the rim of your highball glass...always use a highball glass, it adds a touch of class even to the bottomest shelf of vodkas.
Then, add some ice and 2 oz. of vodka. (It doesn’t matter what kind, you’re just going to taste grapefruit juice anyway.) Top it off with 4 oz. of grapefruit juice and stir it up. If you want to get really fancy (it’s Tuesday, after all) add a grapefruit twist on top.
Don’t drink alcohol? Good for you! Me neither. I’d offer a virgin option, but there’s literally no other reason to drink grapefruit juice, so just drink a 99-cent Arizona Arnold Palmer—it’s made in New York, after all.
Where to watch/listen
Once again, this game is on at 6:00 Central, a little earlier than usual. You can catch it on Fox Sports Tennessee or listen on 102.5 The Game.