The struggling Nashville Predators have their first road game of the season against the also-struggling Winnipeg Jets tonight. Both teams have won only a single game so far this season, though the Jets did manage to take one of their three losses to overtime.
The Nashville Predators
The Predators have, well, not gotten off to a great start this season. They’ve had problems with discipline as well as with some basic tactics—as Shaun pointed out yesterday, their turnover problem (which cost them Thursday’s game) could probably be fixed pretty easily with some practice.
The special teams have improved to more or less average chance-wise, and there’s been some promising movement both on the power play and in terms of Juuse Saros’s shorthanded goaltending. We’ll look to see if these trends continue tonight.
Hopefully we get to see more from the promising young players on the roster—like Philip Tomasino, who scored his first NHL goal on Thursday, as well as Eeli Tolvanen, Tommy Novak, and others—as well as the more experienced players. In a lot of ways, despite the season’s struggles, the youth movement is off to a good start: when they’ve been given chances, the young players have mostly taken steps toward figuring out their ga
The Winnipeg Jets
The big story for the Jets is probably that both Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele are in COVID-19 protocol and not expected to play in today’s game. Best wishes to all affected, but from a purely hockey standpoint, Wheeler’s absence in particular might not be the problem for the Jets it would have been a few years ago. Our colleagues at Arctic Ice Hockey had hoped to see the Connor-Scheifele-Wheeler line broken up, and it looks like this is going to force Paul Maurice’s hand.
Nikolaj Ehlers has been held off the scoresheet so far despite leading the Jets in individual expected goals at 5v5 and coming second in iXG in all situations (trailing actual points leader Kyle Connor). It would be great if the Preds could keep his bad luck going, but we should be prepared for it to change.
As far as special teams go, the Jets’ power play has been pretty meh—about on par with the Preds’ in terms of success, though they’ve been generating fewer high-quality chances—while their penalty kill has been atrocious. Their shorthanded play hasn’t been great, and their shorthanded goaltending has also not been great, with the current result that they’ve allowed a goal almost every other time they’ve been shorthanded this season. I wouldn’t hate it if that continued tonight.
How to Watch
The game starts at 6 PM Central time and will air on Bally Sports South, or you can catch the radio call on 102.5 The Game.