Nashville finishes off a two-game swing through the west in Las Vegas this afternoon where they take on the Vegas Golden Knights. The Preds largely dominated in yesterday’s game against the Ducks, who, Trevor Zegras notwithstanding, rank among the weakest teams in the league. Goals from six different players matched the Predators’ top offensive performance on the season and Juuse Saros saved 26 of 27 shots in a decisive 6-1 win.
Vegas is a very different team who is sitting atop the Pacific division but have gone 5-5-1 in their last 11 games, including back-to-back road losses in their last two games. Vegas is looking to redeem themselves, but they have a roster of injuries to contend with in the process. Key among their forward injuries are Jack Eichel, who was leading the team in scoring before his injury on December 9th, and Jonathan Marchessault, who went down with an injury December 21st. The Knights are also missing defenders Shea Theodore and Zach Whitecloud, who were both injured in early December, and Alec Martinez, who was hurt on December 27th. Marchessault, forward Paul Cotter, and Martinez are nearing a return, but it was not clear whether they would be available for today’s game.
Despite being hit hard by the injury bug, Vegas still has significant firepower to contend with. The forwards are currently led by Chandler Stephenson with 36 points on the season and Mark Stone who is following closely behind with 32 points, including 7 in the last 5 games. Both of them surpass any player on the Predators’ roster and Vegas has additional significant contributors including Reilly Smith and William Karlsson.
The Vegas defense is led by Alex Pietrangelo, who is tied with Roman Josi with 27 points for the season. The Golden Knights have allowed an average of 2.79 goals per game, 11th in the league and slightly better than the 2.97 goals allowed by the Predators this season.
Vegas goaltender Logan Thompson has been strong in net, matching Juuse Saros with a .916 SV%, while backup Adin Hill has been slightly weaker with a .899.
The Predators have made significant strides in the special teams department lately, but the Vegas power play is a powerful weapon. Staying disciplined and out of the box will be critical.
Still, given injuries that Vegas is contending with, the Predators’ recent strides suggest that they have an opportunity to end the season on a high note and take two more standings points into the new year.