Game Preview: Nashville Predators vs Pittsburgh Penguins 2/28/23

The Preds have a tough one tonight.

The Nashville Predators, after a busy weekend, head into a game tonight against their old foes the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh is clawing for playoff position despite a shockingly healthy roster—Kris Letang missed some time, but most of their other big names both old and new have been around for pretty much the whole season—and won’t be inclined to have mercy on the Preds. Nashville, meanwhile, would be better served long-term by a loss here, but I just can’t bring myself to cheer for the Penguins after 2017. Your mileage may vary.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin remain the backbones of the team’s offense, able to conjure plays out of nowhere. Crosby leads the team in goals (26), assists (45), and points (71), with Malkin right behind with 23-39–62. Jake Guentzel is actually the second leading goalscorer, with 24, and rounds out the top three in scoring with 52 points. Rickard Rakell has also topped the 20-goal mark, while Letang and Bryan Rust have contributed 20+ assists each.

The scary thing is that the Penguins have also been shooting unluckily. They’ve been generating plenty of offense at even strength and on the power play, getting to the front of the net as well as making fancy plays, but they haven’t been rewarded for it with as many goals as you’d expect. Jason Zucker in particular has been an exceptional play-driver for them, despite hovering at the 34-point mark.

Defensively, the Penguins aren’t in the best position. They give up a fair bit right around the goal and up the middle of the ice, both at even strength and on the penalty kill, but their goalies have been up to the task so far. Tristan Jarry is having a very solid season as their starter, with a .917 sv% and some above-average play. Casey DeSmith, serving as the 1B goalie this season to Jarry’s 1A, is having a bit of a rougher year, but has still managed a .904 sv% and a fair number of wins behind the Penguins’ high-octane offense.

The Penguins’ special teams hover pretty close to league average in their results, with good goaltending (mostly from Jarry) and bad shooting luck (especially from Guentzel, though the team as a whole has struggled some as well) balancing out their strengths and weaknesses. I don’t think it would be a good idea for the Preds to take a lot of penalties tonight.

How to Watch

The game airs at 7PM Central/8PM Eastern on Bally Sports South and 102.5 The Game.