Game Preview: Nashville Predators @ Florida Panthers 2/22/22
It might feel like just a speed bump to us as fans, but it’s still an important game for the team.
The Nashville Predators have lost four in a row heading in to tonight’s game. Thursday they return home for Pekka Rinne’s number retirement ceremony, and Saturday is the first Nashville-hosted outdoor game in NHL history, but first: Sunrise, and a match against the Florida Panthers. The Panthers are in much better shape than the Preds, at the top of the Atlantic and on a three-game winning streak—their first three games since the very start of the month.
Jonathan Huberdeau stands head and shoulders above his teammates in point production, with a staggering 53 assists (in 50 games) bringing his point total to 70; Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad are tied for second in points with 47. Aleksander Barkov is just behind them in total points, with 45, and leads the team in goals with 23 (it’s worth noting that Barkov has done this in just 37 games, though).
Don’t sleep on Mason Marchment, either—the middle-six forward leads the team in even-strength points/60 and in the share of goals the Panthers have scored with him on the ice that he’s had a point on.
As for familiar faces on the team, Patric Hornqvist isn’t getting any younger (19 points on the season). For the real long-term fans (tip of the hat to the Preds’ official site for pointing this one out) former Pred, and first goal-scorer in franchise history, Andrew Brunette is the current head coach.
In goal, Sergei Bobrovsky has done the lion’s share of the work for the Panthers. It’s been one of his on-years; he has a respectable .919 sv% and has started—and won—quite a few more games than primary backup Spencer Knight, who’s been up and down from the AHL and is currently with their Charlotte Checkers. Jonas Johansson is the current backup, but has yet to play a game with the Panthers this season—in nine games with the Colorado Avalanche, he had a .880 sv%.
The Panthers’ special teams are pretty average, though they do both draw and take a few more penalties than the league as a whole. Their record comes mostly from a ferocious even-strength offense and effective conversion on their chances, while getting pretty decent goaltending. Juuse Saros will have to be sharp tonight if the Preds hope to limit the Panthers’ production.
How to Watch
The game starts at 6 PM Central and will air on Bally Sports South and 102.5 The Game.
Statistics from naturalstattrick.com. Further background from hockeyviz.com.