The Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild are two teams in the same division that have had pretty disappointing starts to the season. Although Minnesota (7-6-2) look to be surging back with a record of 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, the Predators (6-8-1) continue to play uninspiring hockey. With a record of 4-6-0 in their previous 10 games, there have been some bright spots, but the process continues not to work for the most part.
The Wild are coming off a shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks. They possessed a two-goal lead in the third but allowed the Sharks to come back and take the game past regulation time. Kirill Kaprizov scored in the shootout for Minnesota and Nick Bonino and Alexander Barabonov scored for San Jose.
On the other hand, the Predators won their contest against the New York Rangers by a score of 2-1, securing the first game of their current five-game homestand. They got beat in almost every statistical category, but an incredible performance from Juuse Saros, the first NHL goal for rookie Juuso Parssinen, and a gutsy four-minute penalty kill at the end of regulation helped lead the way to a victory over one of the stronger teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Wild, like the Rangers, are a very solid power play team, and it’s a miracle that the Predators didn’t concede a goal on the penalty kill on Saturday, because there were plenty of chances for it to happen. Minnesota sits 9th in the NHL at 24% on the power play while the Predators continue to struggle, sitting 30th at 14.6%. As for the penalty kills for both teams, they are about neck and neck, with the Wild sitting 10th and the Predators sitting 9th, only 0.2 percentage points ahead.
The Predators have to worry about the usual suspects for the Wild, starting with Kaprizov, who leads the team in points with 17 in 15 games, with Mats Zuccarello following close behind with 15 points in 15 games.
Leading the charge for Nashville is Filip Forsberg with 15 points in 15 games, and following him are his linemates Mikael Granlund (12 points in 15 games) and Matt Duchene (11 points in 15 games).
In terms of the goaltending matchup, I wouldn't be surprised to see Saros back in the net after his fantastic performance against the Rangers. For the Wild, Filip Gustavsson was in net against the Sharks, which leads me to believe that Marc-André Fleury will be back in between the pipes to get the start in the Music City.
Despite what their current record may say, the Wild are a team and will be a formidable opponent for a Predators team that appears to still be looking for the identity that John Hynes preaches day in and day out. Another loss would just feed the fire for fans that want to see the man behind the bench head out the door. However, a win would push them farther away from the St. Louis Blues, who currently sit in last place in the Central Division.
It’s going to be an important night, especially since games between these two teams always have some sort of fireworks, whether it’s between players or on the scoreboard.
How to Watch
Game time: 7 pm CT/8 pm ET
TV: Bally Sports South
Radio: 102.5 The Game