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Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators Preview: The Countdown Continues

Rematch of last year’s first-round matchup takes place in Bridgestone Arena.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Nashville Predators (36-22-5) host the Colorado Avalanche (26-24-11) in Bridgestone Arena. The Central Division rivals faced each other in last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, but now the Avalanche sit just outside the Western Conference playoff bubble. While both teams have struggled as of late, the Predators and Avalanche enter this contest on win streaks. The Avalanche most recently defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3 after plowing through the Winnipeg Jets 7-1. They are absolutely a dangerous team and not a group that the Predators should take lightly.

The Colorado Avalanche

Still boasting arguably the best line in hockey, the Colorado Avalanche can bury a team if given the chance. Just ask the Winnipeg Jets, who were destroyed 7-1 by the Avalanche earlier this week. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen have the talent to pop off if left unchecked. While MacKinnon was the catalyst of the Avalanche’s play last season, both Landeskog and Rantanen have taken the next steps in their development and really grew into their roles this season.

While the Avalanche have struggled in February, they seem to finally be righting their ship. Not only did they beat the Jets earlier this week, but they also won 4-1 in Winnipeg five games ago, a stretch in which the Avalanche are 4-1-0. Despite their top line being as good as it is, the best player over that stretch may be goaltender Semyon Varlamov. He has started all five of those games, earning a save percent of .958% and one shutout over the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Nashville Predators

Believe it or not, the Predators have a chance to bank their third consecutive win tonight against Colorado. Tuesday they defeated the Dallas Stars 5-3 and then Thursday beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

While the Predators have finally tossed a couple of wins together, their play still has been far from convincing. The power play is still as strong as wet paper and, despite a strong first two periods against the Kings, the Predators played a weak third period that allowed the Kings to sneak back into the game. One would hope that the 77-point Predators would more confidently defeat the 52-point Kings, but the Predators failed to put together a full 60 minutes.

Longtime trade target Matt Duchene was traded yesterday from the Ottawa Senators to the Columbus Blue Jackets, meaning the Predators are going to focus on other available players. Both the Predators and the Jets are apparently still interested in Ottawa winger Mark Stone, but there are additionally other names now surfacing. Unfortunately, one of these names is Jeff Carter, a 34-year-old center with only 25 points this season. He also is rumored to cause rifts in the locker room.

Nonetheless, even other than Stone, there are still valuable trade targets available. Ryan Dzingel, a player that would add a scoring punch to the second line, is still available. Furthermore, names like Gustav Nyquist, Kevin Hayes, and others are all on the block. It will be an intriguing week as the dominoes start to fall.

Reasons to Watch

  1. These two teams do not like each other. This was established in last season’s playoffs and has not changed in the slightest bit.
  2. Hello Samuel Girard!
  3. I stand firm that Ryan Johansen is the best Predator right now. His game is on another level right now despite being held scoreless the last three games. The pressure he creates is really opening up the game for everyone else on the Predators.

Pregame Meal

This is going to be boring, but for lunch I drink the product Huel mixed with some peanut butter powder. It’s quick, simple, healthy, and I don’t have to leave the law school library to consume it.

Sights and Sounds

The puck drops in Bridgestone Arena at 4:30 Central. FS-TN will televise the game while 102.5 The Game will carry it on the radio.