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Game Preview: Nashville Predators vs. Colorado Avalanche 12/23/22

Claude Lemieux #22

How to Watch

Puck Drop: 7 PM CST
Location: Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, TN
TV: Bally Sports South
Radio: 102.5 The Game
Avs’ SB Nation Site: Mile High Hockey

What To Watch For

As I sit here writing this preview in the middle of single-digit temperatures with a blanket of snow and ice outside, I’m reminded that today is the 24-year anniversary of the “Ice Storm Game” at the then-Nashville Arena (today called Bridgestone Arena, of course.)

The circumstances are somewhat coincidental. The Predators were hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion, the Detroit Red Wings, who looked nearly invincible against the Preds in their prior games. Many fans with tickets were unable to go or were late-arriving due to the condition of the roads, and at one point, there was talk of cancelling the game altogether.

The game did go on, and the fans who did make it to the arena were treated to arguably one of the best games in franchise history. The Preds upset Detroit 5-3 in what’s widely considered the franchise’s first marquee win. Scott Walker and Cliff Ronning each had two goals, and Tomas Vokoun made 50 saves to backstop the win over the two-time defending champs.

The fond memories of that game also harken back to a simpler time for the franchise. Twenty-four years and a few deep playoff runs have heightened both expectations and impatience for the fanbase. Gone are the days where an exciting win at home over a good team are universally celebrated; each game goes under-the-microscope, with debates over whether the win was “deserved” or “sustainable,” or whether the Preds would have been better off losing to improve their draft lottery chances.

Tonight, the Predators host another defending Stanley Cup champion, the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs certainly have the Preds’ number. They have the better roster, and as of now, their immediately future certainly seems much brighter than the one in store for hockey fans in Nashville. But as Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Future taught us, the future’s not always cast in stone.

Over the years, there have been some magical moments in the Preds’ last game before Christmas. If Nashville manages to earn another one tonight, maybe — just for one night — we can put aside the team discourse and celebrate the night for what it would be, a feel-good win over a good team to start Christmas break on a fun note.

Player To Watch

Matt Duchene

NHL: All Star Game-Skills Competition Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

When the season started, Matt Duchene seemed to be a far cry from the record-setting season he had with the Predators last season. But slowly but surely, Duchene is heating up, and it’s no coincidence that fact coincides with the Preds winning their last two games. Duchene has found the net in three consecutive games and has at least a point in his last four. As it turns out, Duchene also REALLY likes playing his former team. Including last season’s playoffs, Duchene has 13 goals in 15 career games against the Avs (4 with the Senators and 9 with the Preds.) So don’t be surprised if #95 finds a little extra motivation to find the scoresheet tonight.