At the Nashville Predators game tonight, franchise goalie Pekka Rinne’s number is getting retired—the first such retirement in Preds history, and a well-deserved one. The team is, however, also playing a hockey game—against the Dallas Stars, close behind them in the wildcard race. It’s an important game. The Preds are coming off an impressive comeback win against the Florida Panthers, while the Stars enter the game after a back-and-forth game against the Winnipeg Jets that eventually ended in OT.
Just like last time, Joe Pavelski is the Stars’ top point-getter. He leads the team in points (53) and assists (32). Jason Robertson, second in points (46) is tied with Pavelski for second in goals with 21, just behind Roope Hintz’s 22. Hintz also rounds out the group of players with 30+ points, with 43. Tyler Seguin’s OT winner last night brought him to 17 goals and 29 points on the season, but he still hasn’t had the best year.
Goalie Jake Oettinger, however, continues to have a good one. He boasts a .921 sv% on the season, while backup Braden Holtby has a respectable .912. Anton Khudobin remains on tap but has not had as strong a year as the other two goalies.
The Stars’ power play is still very good; their penalty kill is still just okay despite excellent defense. They’re still struggling to convert on the shots they’re taking, and at 5v5 those shots have by and large not been great. They look about like they did two weeks ago, when the Preds lost the matchup 4-3—hopefully the outcome is different tonight.
Vezina winner and two-time Vezina finalist, two-time season All-Star, never quite made the Hart finalists but was always the MVP in our hearts. His jawdropping performance at the start of the 2017 Stanley Cup run made anything feel possible.
Off the ice, he started the Preds’ 365 Foundation with Shea Weber, and was active in the community beyond that. He’s probably the most universally-loved figure in Preds history, for what he did both in the game and in the city, and earned admiration from his opponents as well as his teammates and his team’s fans.
For a long time, the team went as far as Rinne could carry them, and it’s been strange seeing the Preds without Rinne this year. Tonight, his number takes the spotlight again.
How to Watch
The game starts at 7:30 PM Central, but the jersey-retirement ceremony will be at 6PM. The ceremony and game will be covered on Bally Sports South and 102.5 The Game.