Game Preview: Nashville Predators @ New York Islanders 12/9/21
New York, here they come.
The Nashville Predators are taking their first and only trip to New York of the 2021-22 season, and their first opponent is the New York Islanders. The two teams have a connection in the form of head coach Barry Trotz, but they're basically on opposite ends as far as standings go.
It was a chaotic night for both the Predators fanbase and team when they played the Detroit Red Wings. They came out of the night with a 5-2 victory thanks to Ryan Johansen, Roman Josi, Nick Cousins, Eeli Tolvanen, and Dante Fabbro. It was a relatively uneventful night for goaltender David Rittich as he only dealt with 16 shots and saved 14 of them. The Predators' defensive display was strong, and keeping players like Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider off the board is an arduous task, but they got it done.
Overall, the Predators hold a 14-10-1 record and are 5-5-0 in their last 10 games. The line of Filip Forsberg, Mikael Granlund, and Matt Duchene continues to play some of the best hockey as a unit in the entire NHL, despite not getting on the scoresheet in the previous game. They always seem to be in the right spots, and even though they may not score every game, they always create plays and drive the puck through the neutral zone with speed.
One of the best things to come out of the night was Tolvanen, and considering the slide that the Islanders are on, he could take advantage and keep his goal streak going. He hasn't been able to get some puck luck and put some goals in the net since the first game of the season, but it looks like he may be starting to heat up. He will be a threat every game, and against the Islanders, it should be no different. Everyone knows the kind of style that Trotz employs, but taking advantage of it will be a big test.
It has been a season of unfortunate events for the Islanders. Their 6-10-5 record isn't entirely reflective of their talent on the team. They were obliterated by Covid-19 and even had two games postponed due to the number of people forced into the protocol. They have a new arena and could find some confidence in their game if they beat the Predators at home.
However, the Islanders are 1-6-3 in their last 10 games, and they finally broke out of an 11 game losing streak with a win over the Ottawa Senators. They're looking to make it a streak with two wins in a row.
Mathew Barzal is a player that you have to be aware of at all times. He currently leads the team with 14 points in 21 games. Brock Nelson leads the team in goals with nine in 15 games while shooting a ridiculous 22.5 percent. Young stud sniper Oliver Wahlstrom follows close behind him with eight goals in 21 games. There is a lot of talent on the roster, and it's just a matter of getting heated up. They have a great Russian goaltender, Ilya Sorokin, as the team's backbone. He's sporting a ridiculous .924 save percentage (Sv%). Their backup, Semyon Varlamov, is no slouch either. Both goalies can steal a game if the offense can't find its groove.
The record could change for the Islanders in the blink of an eye, so it's crucial the Predators don't take the matchup lightly. There are plenty of threats to focus on in the pregame scouting report, and it's going to take some solid defensive play to hold back a team coached by arguably the best coach in the NHL.