Game Preview: Nashville Predators vs Calgary Flames 4/26/22
The Preds can clinch tonight, if they win.
The Nashville Predators play the Calgary Flames tonight. If the Preds made it in, and if the rest of the wild-card situation lines up right, this would be their first-round playoff matchup—as well as maybe their best chance to make it past the first round. And if the Preds win tonight they will make it in, as well as improving their chances of having it be their first-round meeting.
It’s a big game.
The Flames have had a very good month, rebounding from their one big loss (6-1 to Vegas) with an even bigger win (9-1 over Arizona). They’ve won both the games they played since their shootout loss to the Preds last week, and Johnny Gaudreau is one away from joining Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm (as well as Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene) at 40 goals.
Gaudreau leads the Flames with 111 points, while Tkachuk has also broken the 100-point mark (he has 101). There’s a sharp dropoff from Tkachuk to Lindholm, sitting at 80, and a sharper dropoff from Lindholm to Andrew Mangiapane, at 55. Gaudreau and Tkachuk are obviously the assists leaders, with 72 and 61 respectively, but the honor of third goes to Rasmus Andersson, who’s chipped in 44 despite scoring only four goals.
Jacob Markstrom has been excellent in goal, putting up a .922 sv% on the season while starting over three-quarters of their games. Backup Daniel Vladar has been less excellent in his starts, but still has a very average .906 that’s more than good enough to win games with the Flames’s offensive firepower and great defense to support him.
Both at 5v5 and on special teams, the Flames control the ice. They’ve had poor shooting luck, but the offensive pressure they bring to bear is such that they’re still one of the higher-scoring teams in the league. Between Markstrom and their defense, they also give up very little. Their power play is dangerous; their penalty kill is stifling. Very few of their players have significant weaknesses with regards to shot quality.
The Preds have hung with the Flames, and beat them, in the past this season; they’ll need to work hard to do it again.
How to Watch
The game airs at 7 PM Central on Bally Sports South and 102.5 The Game.
If you like to watch more hockey during your intermissions, the Vegas Golden Knights play the Dallas Stars in a game starting at 7:30 Central and airing on ESPN+.
If Vegas defeats Dallas in a shootout while Nashville defeat Calgary in overtime or regulation, then Nashville are through. If Vegas defeat Dallas in overtime or regulation while Nashville defeat Calgary in regulation, Nashville are through.— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) April 26, 2022
Statistics from naturalstattrick.com. Further background from hockeyviz.com.