Game Preview: Nashville Predators vs Ottawa Senators
It’s a Saturday Matinee to kick off a brutal stretch of six games in eight days
After a lackluster return from a five-day break Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning (a 5-2 loss), the Nashville Predators kick off a brutal pre-holiday stretch that sees the team playing five games over the next eight days. First on the docket? The Eastern Conference’s Ottawa Senators.
The Ottawa Senators
Overall Record: 10-14-2 (8th Atlantic)
Last 10 Games: 4-5-1
Last week’s results:
Dec. 3rd vs San Jose Sharks - 5-2 victory
Dec. 6th vs Los Angeles Kings - 5-2 loss
Dec. 8th @ Dallas Stars - 4-3 overtime loss
The Ottawa Senators have settled into the basement of the Atlantic Division, and it’s difficult to see them making their way back to the top of a stacked division boasting five 30 point teams. In the last ten games, Ottawa has beaten San Jose, an overtime win against the Rangers, an OT win at Los Angeles and a dominant 5-1 win over Anaheim. The wins over Los Angeles and New York are impressive, but Ottawa has lost to both of these teams in that same time period as well, and Anaheim and San Jose are among the league’s worst teams.
This season Ottawa has struggled to convert opportunities into goals, as they are producing shot attempts and shot quality at a high level, but they are below league average at creating goals. The defense isn’t awful, but it it’s still below league average, so the Predators would do well to attack early and often. On special teams, the Ottawa power play can be dangerous (7th in the NHL at 26.0%), while the penalty kill sits at 18th (77.1%) due to the teams’ inability to stop quality chances against.
Ottawa Players to Watch
F Austin Watson - The former Nashville Predator has found a new home in Ottawa after what was a tumultuous final year in Music City. Watson had his second best year in the NHL last season with the Senators, posting 10 goals and 16 points as a cornerstone of the Ottawa bottom six. Currently, he has three points in 26 games (one goal, two assists), but former Preds have a history of performing well against Nashville, and you’d better believe I’m watching Tanner Jeannot and Michael McCarron when they start getting physical with Watson.
D Thomas Chabot - Chabot is one of the lone bright spots of the team, posting incredible offensive numbers, including six points and three goals in the last five games. Coming into the game, Chabot is the highest-graded player on either team by Evolving-Wild’s Goals Above Replacement (GAR) at 5.3, mostly due to his excellent offensive ability and slightly below average defense. Chabot is a threat to shoot, and has several teammates that can clean up rebounds close to the net like Alex DeBrincat and Brady Tkachuk.
Projected Ottawa Lineup
Here is a projected lineup ahead of today’s game, with no morning practices being held.
Overall Record: 12-10-2 (5th Central)
Last 10 Games: 7-3-2
Last week’s results:
Dec. 8th @ Tampa Bay Lightning - 5-2 loss
The Nashville Predators once again came off an extended break in action, and once again, they came out flat. After being held to just four shots on goal in the first period against Tampa Bay, the Predators were able to tie the game on a shorthanded goal from Mark Jankowski and Alex Carrier’s first goal (and point) of the season. The Predators would fall apart in the third period, however, with Braden Point getting two goals and Steven Stamkos picking up another two points in his storied career.
The power play went 0/2 against Tampa, par for the course for a team ranked 28th in the NHL in power play percentage at 17.4%. The penalty kill has regressed over the last couple of weeks, and the Predators killers find themselves ranked 16th with a 78.3% PK percentage. Both teams struggle at different aspects of special teams, so getting an early special teams goal will be a high priority for the Predators.
Predators Player to Watch
F Filip Forsberg - Forsberg started the game against Tampa Bay on a line with Colton Sissons and Tanner Jeannot, but the star Swede was moved up to Nashville’s only productive line in the night alongside Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this group together again today, as they were on the ice for the only Nashville 5 on 5 goal (Forsberg picked up the assist on Carrier’s goal). Forsberg has been the best player on the team all season, and he’ll need to get back to last seasons’ productive ways, as offense has been hard to come by for the 2022-23 Predators.
Here are the lines from Thursday’s game vs Tampa. Lines will be updated when announced.
Granlund - Parssinen - Duchene
Forsberg - Sissons - Jeannot
Smith - Johansen - Niederreiter
Trenin - Jankowski - McCarron
Gross - Josi
Ekholm - Carrier
Lauzon - Fabbro