I’m going to mention this once and then never again for this preview, as we’ll have to move on eventually. But let’s take one more look at Pekka Rinne—the man who is on a 20-goal pace in the John Hynes era—and his miraculous shot.
Now let’s look forward to Nashville’s Central Division rivals, the Winnipeg Jets.
The Predators are coming off a 5-2 victory over the hated Chicago Blackhawks. The Predators started the first period like a brand-new team—an aggressive forecheck, players driving to the net, and puck movement to the slot. Roman Josi added to his now-thirteen-game point streak with a beautiful drive to the net finished off by a deflection by Viktor Arvidsson. Recent call-up Colin Blackwell got his first NHL goal and Matt Duchene converted a strong Nashville forecheck into a move that deked Chicago netminder Corey Crawford nearly out of the net.
What followed was a second-period decline as Chicago pushed hard, and forced the Predators to revert back to their usual turtling ways, allowing a goal in the second. Chicago continued to put pressure on, adding another third period goal and pushing the Preds into desperation mode. Thankfully, with Crawford pulled under a minute to go, Nick Bonino scored off a bank shot into the empty net (thanks to a tremendous effort by Filip Forsberg blocking the defender) to put the score at 4-2 and then, well, see above.
The Nashville Predators are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, and sit at 47 points, five points out of a wild-card spot with two games in hand. One of the two teams currently in a wild-card spot, however, is somebody we’re about to get a close look at.
The Winnipeg Jets
The Jets started the season pretty strong, backed by extremely strong goaltending from Lauren Brossoit and a Vezina-caliber season from Connor Hellebuyck. However, much like the Predators, they are on a 4-4-2 record in their previous 10 games.
Thursday night, Winnipeg late in the game had a one-goal lead over the Boston Bruins with under 10 minutes left in the game. David Pastrnak tied the game, completing his hat trick and extending his point streak (and stop me if you’ve heard this) to twelve games. Jake DeBrusk would score the game-winning goal only 33 seconds later, and the Bruins would walk away with the win.
Unlike the Predators, Winnipeg is riding their quality goaltending, while the Predators are shooting at the third-highest rate in the NHL.
However, the aforementioned great goaltending by Winnipeg is masking some troubling tendencies for the Winnipeg Jets both offensively AND defensively when it comes to expected goals/shot quality.
The Jets are allowing the third most quality against and by far the worst quality for in the league. If the goaltending falters, that could spell some real doom for Winnipeg—which would be a real boon for Nashville’s playoff hopes.
Reasons to Watch
- Game 2 of the official John Hynes era—will we see more of the aggressive Predators we saw in the first period against Chicago?
- The possible return of Dante Fabbro, who skated yesterday with the team after missing time since the Winter Classic with an upper-body injury.
- The next month or so of games before the trade deadline will determine the entire season—will Nashville be able to make a push for a solid playoff position? Or will a single three- or four-game losing streak cement this team as sellers at the deadline, and officially write this season off as a lost cause?
Bryan’s Pregame Listening
You cannot go wrong with an absolute classic, featuring awful early 90’s visuals and an appearance by an incredibly young Busta Rhymes. Don’t worry, it’s safe for work and the kids.
How to Watch
The game begins at 1 PM Central Time on Fox Sports Tennessee, with radio coverage by 102.5 The Game. Winnipeg fans can catch the game on TSN3 and additional coverage provided by our friends at Arctic Ice Hockey.