Imagine knowing you were heading to a party and your ex was going to be there—not an ex you have fond memories of, but the ex you just can’t stand. You work out, lose those last stubborn five pounds, choose the perfect outfit, and visualize sashaying into that room and watching your ex’s jaw drop with regret and shame.
That’s how I wanted Friday night against the Dallas Stars to go for the Predators.
Now imagine you get to the party and as you sashay across the room you hear murmurs and quiet giggles, and you suddenly realize you’re dragging sheets of crumpled toilet paper off your carefully chosen shoes, your zipper is halfway down, and you have spinach in your teeth. When you sit down on the barstool, the cushion makes an airy “whoosh” that sounds remarkably like you’ve passed gas.
That’s about how Friday night against the Dallas Stars actually went for the Predators.
In case you missed the 7-0 catastrophe, you can read the painful recap here, but today we are all about looking forward. What can Predators fans expect tonight in the second game against the Stars?
After their first game (due to COVID-19) and big win of the season, Western Conference champion Dallas will undoubtedly return to the ice with confidence. Anton Khudobin shut out the Predators Friday, despite better shot quality from Nashville, and we will see him back in net this evening.
The Stars played Friday without Tyler Seguin and no word yet on his return to the line up tonight. An odd collision with Viktor Arvidsson in the second period left Jamie Benn with a lower body injury. While he returned briefly to the game Friday, Benn is currently considered a game time decision.
The Stars had five goal scorers Friday and muscled their way around the Predators with 21 hits. Expect to see another physical game from the Stars.
Despite some knee-jerk panic on the part of Predators fans, there will likely be only a little tweaking to the lineup tonight. Matthieu Olivier is out after being reassigned to the taxi squad. Calle Järnkrok is listed as “day to day”, and newly-acquired Luca Sbisa is still in COVID protocol.
The morning skate saw a return of Rocco Grimaldi to the fourth line with Brad Richardson and Yakov Trenin. The rest of the lines remained unchanged in practice. Expect to see Juuse Saros in net.
Head coach John Hynes isn’t panicking after Friday’s rout, although he acknowledge the team needs to step up the special teams play in the rematch. With an abysmal 6.25% power play percentage and a below-league-average penalty kill of 62.5% there is definite room for improvement. How about the Predators just stay out of the box tonight?
Reasons to Watch
This game is a chance to measure how much of Hynes’s “mental toughness” culture the players have bought into. If ever there was an opportunity to flex the resiliency muscles, the game tonight is it.
The Predators are better than their Friday night performance. Their 5 vs 5 play, shot quality, and talent can compete with this Dallas team, if only the special teams trainwreck can be avoided.
It has to be better than the last game, right?
Tonight’s Theme Song
The Predators were scorned in their 7-0 loss to the Stars Friday. Let’s hope they take some of this Carrie Underwood energy (and a metaphorical Louisville Slugger) into the game tonight.
(You know the Stars drink some fruity little drink because they can’t shoot whiskey.)
How to Watch
The game will be on Fox Sports TN and 102.5 The Game. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM (Central).