The Nashville Predators play tonight before an extended break. Their opponent: the New Jersey Devils, who've put together a great season after years of struggles.
Nashville will be minus Alexandre Carrier. The team announced this morning that he'll be out 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury. Kevin Gravel has been recalled from the Milwaukee Admirals.
This is rough news for Carrier and the Preds in general, and comes at a particularly challenging time. The Devils are near the top of the Metropolitan Division and have gotten there with consistently strong play. The closest thing to a salient weakness they have is that their power play and goaltending are only average.
Jack Hughes leads the team with 30G/30A, for an impressive 60 points on the season so far. Jesper Bratt ties him in assists and has added 18 goals, while Nico Hischier is second on the team in goals with 21 and adds 25 assists. Dougie Hamilton has been a major offensive contributor from the blueline, contributing 29 assists and adding 13 goals.
In net, backup Mackenzie Blackwood has struggled, putting up a.896 sv% on the season, but Vitek Vanacek has been significantly better, posting a .916. More to the point, both goalies are playing behind a great defense that makes their jobs a lot easier. The Devils keep the puck in the offensive zone.
Especially without Carrier, this is likely to be a bumpy ride.
The game airs at 7PM Central/8PM Eastern on Bally Sports South and 102.5 The Game.