The Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche both headed to Denver last night after wrapping up a game further east. The Preds had a satisfying 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils, though they definitely did let the Devils back into the game at the end, while the Avalanche had a rough first period before recovering just enough to lose 3-1 to the Dallas Stars.
The Nashville Predators
With their win last night, the Preds are back to just barely treading water at .500. We saw lights-out defensive play through the first two periods, along with an offense that was focused on getting to the front of the net where the dangerous chances live.
We should expect to see David Rittich in net tonight, since although Juuse Saros had a light workload for most of it he did still play all 60 minutes last night.
The Colorado Avalanche
Another year, another Avs team with the ability to shred their opponents. The rest of us in the Central look back with wistful nostalgia on the years when Patrick Roy was coaching them to abject mediocrity at best and near-record failure at worst.
Darcy Kuemper (season Sv% .903) started last night in Dallas, so we’ll probably see Jonas Johansson (season Sv% .905) tonight. Nathan MacKinnon hasn’t played since a lower-body injury sustained on November 6; he’s not expected to return tonight.
In MacKinnon’s absence, Nazem Kadri leads the team in assists with 18 and points with 25. Gabriel Landeskog is the other player with double-digit assists (12), while star defender Cale Makar leads the team in goals with nine. Mikko Rantanen is having a quieter season without MacKinnon, with seven each of goals and assists for a mere point-per-game pace.
Logan O’Connor, who hasn’t made much impact on the scoreboard yet, is behind only Landeskog in 5v5 chance generation; at some point the puck is going to bounce his way.
The Avalanche have had some bad luck with both shooting and goaltending, but have controlled play very well at both ends of the ice. Their penalty kill has been a weak point, with questionable goaltending combining with questionable defense; their power play has been effective, and they draw a lot of penalties while not taking that many. The Preds will need to work to stay out of the box tonight.
All in all, this is a team without a lot of obvious weaknesses to exploit. If the Preds want to get the win in the Mile High City, they’re going to need to play up to their potential.
How to Watch
Puck drop is at 8PM Central; the game will be airing on Bally Sports South and broadcast on 102.5 The Game.