Game Preview: Nashville Predators vs. Anaheim Ducks 11/29/22
Can Nashville get back on track against a lowly Ducks team?
Tonight, the Nashville Predators will host the Anaheim Ducks after nearly a week without playing; Friday and Saturday’s games against Colorado and Columbus were postponed due to a water main break near Bridgestone Arena.
Preds’ Games Against Avalanche, Blue Jackets Postponed (Updated)
Nashville currently sits sixth in the tightly-contested Central Division with a 9-9-2 record. The Anaheim Ducks are even worse off with a 6-15-1 record that ranks last in the entire NHL. This matchup should be a prime opportunity for two points for the Predators before they embark on a three-game road trip to New Jersey, Long Island, and Tampa.
Last time out—on Wednesday before Thanksgiving—Nashville conceded a 3-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in a game where the Predators did nearly everything right. During five-on-five play, Nashville out possessed Detroit 60.92% to 39.08% and controlled high-danger shot attempts 70% to 30%.
Furthermore, the Predators dominated the Red Wings in expected goals share, notching 2.19 at full strength all night. Despite all of those moral victories, Nashville left Motor City with zero points, dropping to 6-3-1 in their last ten games.
Even with a slight turnaround in the Preds’ performance as of late, this fanbase isn’t light on frustration. Eeli Tolvanen has been scratched for the last two games in favor of Cole Smith, and Cody Glass has been stapled to a line with Mark Jankowski and Michael McCarron (which ironically had the best expected goals rate against Detroit). Yakov Trenin continues to deal with a nagging lower-body injury as he missed last Wednesday’s game.
Over the course of the season, Nashville is barely breaking even at full strength in expected goals-for with a 50.25% rate, and the defense has surrendered three more high-danger shot attempts (178) than the team has generated (175). Despite two 0.970+ save percentage performances in his last five games, Juuse Saros still sits 57th in the league in goals-saved above average at -2.27.
Player to Watch: Dante Fabbro
Last week, Nick Kypreos reported that David Poile could be shopping Dante Fabbro in exchange for scoring help. Among the team’s six defenders, Fabbro skated more minutes than just Jeremy Lauzon last week, and he’s recorded just four assists in 19 games this season.
If Fabbro is dealt soon, expect Jordan Gross to fill his place until Mark Borowiecki returns to the ice.
The Ducks come to Nashville after a 5-4 loss to the Seattle Kraken last weekend, giving them a 2-8-0 record in their last ten contests. This team is putrid in every sense of the word.
Anaheim’s offense is led by Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry, who have combined for 43 points in 22 games; Zegras has four goals and seven points in his last ten games. Despite their lack of success, the Ducks’ forward lineup is full of interesting young talent, including Isac Lundestrom and Mason McTavish. The latter—who has 11 points in 22 games this season—is centering Anaheim’s top power-play unit featuring Zegras, Terry, and Cam Fowler. The Ducks’ power play scored three goals against the Kraken but still sits 31st in the league with a 15.2% conversion rate.
On the other side of the puck, Anaheim is missing its top blueliner Jamie Drysdale, who is out for four to six months with a torn labrum. John Klingberg also missed Sunday’s game with a lower-body injury. This Ducks’ defense has allowed the most goals per game (4.23), and its penalty-killing units are prime for exploitation with just a 65.4% success rate.
Anaheim’s starter in net, John Gibson, has struggled this season with a 0.890 save percentage and -1.11 goals-saved above average. He also left Sunday’s game with an injury but did travel with the team to Nashville; Anthony Stolarz came on in relief.
Player to Watch: Cam Fowler
The veteran defender is the leader of this blue line and has scored six points in his last five games. But, at five-on-five, he’s posted just a 44.14% Corsi this season and surrendered a team-high 24.2 expected goals and high-danger shot attempts. The Ducks’ defense is very porous, and Fowler is a big reason why.
How to Watch
Puck drop is at 7:00 pm CST tonight, and you can watch on Bally Sports South or on ESPN+ and Hulu for anyone outside of the local market. As usual, the Nashville radio call will be on 102.5 The Game.
All statistics are courtesy of NHL.com, Natural Stat Trick, or hockey-reference.com.