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Nashville Predators vs. Florida Panthers Preview 3/4/21: Round Three of Cat-on-Cat Action

The handicapped Predators host their second two-game series against Florida this season.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Florida Panthers Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

After winning two games against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and then dropping a contest to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Nashville Predators begin their final mini-series of this homestand tonight as they take on the Florida Panthers. Ryan Ellis is out for the foreseeable future, and Juuse Saros has been labeled day-to-day. A recipe for success.

The Panthers

The Predators split the opening series of the season against Florida. Back in the golden days, before Filip Forsberg was left off of Elliotte Friedman’s list of untouchable Predators, the first game that the Preds played against the Panthers was one of the highlights of the season. After trailing 5-3 heading into the third period, a late comeback sent the game to overtime and Forsberg gave the team its game-winning goal. This game was also significant because of Matt Duchene’s apparent wake-up, as he scored two goals (he has scored one goal since).

The game that followed was probably the most boring game of hockey I’ve watched all season. Colton Sissons was the lone goal scorer for Nashville, as the Predators lost an ugly 2-1 affair to wrap up their time in South Florida.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Florida Panthers Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Since finishing up their series against Nashville on February 5, the Panthers have earned a record of 7-4-1. These games include an ugly 4-1 loss to Detroit and a 2-1 record against both Tampa Bay and Dallas. Former Predator Patric Hörnqvist has emerged as the Cats’ leading goal scorer.

The Predators

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Nashville is, somehow, 4-2 in their past six games. Actually, I do know how that happened: all four of those wins were against either Detroit or Columbus, the other two teams keeping the Predators company at the bottom of the Discover Central standings (yes, Dallas is there too. For now). The Predators even tried to make a comeback in their most recent game against the Hurricanes, coming within one goal of Carolina in the third period, but Sebastian Aho put an end to that with his empty-net goal.

Now that the team is back to consistently playing quality opponents, we will see if those wins were representative of anything but the other team’s deficiencies. While my guess is that they weren’t, it is always fun to hope!

Keys to the Game

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Score goals before the third period—It seems pretty simple, right? Not for this team. Nashville is 27th in the league in first-period goals, and 31st in the league in second-period goals. Until the Kraken hit the ice, 31st is dead last.
  2. Let Mattias Ekholm shine—Let’s get real, folks. This team is going to be making some big trades in the near future. This likely will include the Swedish defender getting sent to a team trying to win a cup; Philadelphia has been a team linked to his name for a while now. If Nashville wants to get the most assets and picks possible back for Ekholm, get the puck on his stick as often as possible, and ride that trade stock to the moon.
  3. Hope that Florida starts Sergei Bobrovsky—While the Panthers’ goaltender has a winning record this season, his goals against average of 3.02 is nothing to brag about. An offensively inept team like the Predators would love to get a shot at a weaker goalie.
NHL: Nashville Predators at Florida Panthers Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Where to Watch

The game between Nashville and Florida can be seen on FS-TN, and heard on 102.5 The Game. Puck drop is at 8:30 Eastern, 7:30 Central.

Song of the Game

Today’s selection is a classic; as we inch closer and closer to the moment when David Poile pulls the trigger on a trade to send one of our beloved Predators to another team, Creedence Clearwater Revival sets the perfect mood of unease and impending doom.

“Someone told me long ago,
There’s a calm before the storm.
I know, it’s been comin’ for some time”