How To Watch
Puck Drop: 6 PM CST
Location: PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
Radio: 102.5 The Game
Canes’ SB Nation Site: Canes Country
What To Watch For
Tennessee vs. North Carolina; Sweet BBQ vs. Vinegar BBQ; Hot chicken vs. brunswick stew; NASCAR vs.... well.... I guess also NASCAR.
There’s always been somewhat of a comparison rivalry between folks in Tennessee and folks from the state Tennessee broke away from. But sadly, apart from the 2021 season, time zones and conference alignment have kept the Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes from having a great hockey rivalry.
Still, it’s always fun to see two southern hockey teams go at it. And when the Preds and Canes get together, there’s usually some spiciness.
The Predators could use a little of that spiciness to get them going in this one. The next few weeks are not only critical for Nashville’s playoff chances, but how they do in those games will likely define the Preds’ standing at the trade deadline, and could lead to some franchise-shaping decisions later this Summer.
There’s at least some evidence to show the Preds are, possibly maybe, trending upward. They have points in 7 of their last 10 teams (although three of those are overtime losses,) and have a handful of players starting to regain some of last season’s magic. The most notable name in that is Filip Forsberg, who has five goals and eight points in his last four games. The team overall has scored 16 goals in their past three games, and while there’s some debate whether that’s a sign the offense is turning a corner or just the Preds taking advantage of some bad defensive teams, they’re at least doing what they need to do.
Tonight’s game is a massive test for that Preds offense. The Hurricanes have allowed the 4th-fewest goals in the NHL this season. A lot of that has been due to the play of possible-Calder contender Pyotor Kochetkov in net (10-2-4, .924 Sv%, 3 SO). However, the play in front of Kochetkov has been solid as well. Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei, Calvin de Haan, Jalen Chatfield, and — yes — Brent Burns all rank among the NHL’s best defensive defensemen this season in terms of chances and expected goals allowed (per NaturalStatTrick.com.) The Hurricanes forward corps is also filled with two-way players that cause headaches for opposing offenses, like Jesper Fast, Jordan Staal, Sebastien Aho, and Teuvu Teravainen.
So while the offensive outburst for the Preds over the past few games has been fun, it may not be wise to count on the same type of game tonight. Instead, the Preds may need to count on a style of game fans are more familiar with... a low-scoring, grind-it-out goalkeeper battle that may hinge on which team can make one fewer mistake.
Player To Watch
When you watch Jeannot’s play over the past few weeks, you get the sense that the floodgates are going to open soon. Jeannot has been a firecracker in the offensive zone, generating good chance after good chance, but for whatever reason, the guy who scored 24 goals as a rookie is still snake-bit. Jeannot hasn’t found the back of the net since October 27th. That being said, he’s done almost everything else right offensively, and if he plays tonight like he’s played against Anaheim, Vegas, and Montreal, you get the sense that Jeannot may be a contender to score a clutch goal or two.