Nashville Predators at Carolina Hurricanes, Game 1: Go Time

The Nashville Predators kick off their playoff campaign tonight in Raleigh, NC.

Tonight the Nashville Predators, #4 seed of the Central Division, begin the postseason with game one against the #1 seed Carolina Hurricanes. The Predators won the final two games of the regular season against Carolina, the latest contest occurring one week ago today. Prior to then, they lost all other six games to the Hurricanes, ending the season with the Hurricanes claiming the second-highest win percentage against the Predators, just behind the Tampa Bay Lightning.

However, while Carolina did not have much to play for, recent results should at least be good confidence builders for the Predators, who were one of the best teams in the NHL the second half of the season. That said, Carolina was one of the best teams in the NHL all season.

As anyone who follows hockey knows, none of that matters now. Anything can happen in the playoffs. Let’s dive in.

The Carolina Hurricanes

Over the last week, us writers here at OnTheForecheck have previewed many elements of what makes Carolina a great team. Because it would be silly for me to just re-state what others have said, here are our breakdowns of the Carolina Hurricanes:

Predators vs. Hurricanes: A Look at the Hurricanes Forwards - Nick Morgan, On the Forecheck

Predators vs. Hurricanes: A Look at the Hurricanes’ Special Teams - Bobby Misey, On the Forecheck

Predators vs. Hurricanes: Five Questions with Canes Country - The OTF Staff, On the Forecheck

On The Forecheck Podcast Episode 19: PLAYOFFS?! - featuring Canes Country - Shaun Smith and Nick Morgan, On the Forecheck

Predators vs. Hurricanes: A Look at the Hurricanes’ Goaltending - Rachel K, On the Forecheck

Predators vs. Hurricanes: Series Preview Overview - Kate R, On the Forecheck

The Nashville Predators

The big talking point revolving around the Nashville Predators this last week is what will become of Eeli Tolvanen and Viktor Arvidsson. From interviews given by Head Coach John Hynes, it seems like the two forwards are competing for the same spot in the lineup, and only one will be taken. At this point in time, that seems to be Viktor Arvidsson.

It’s an interesting conundrum, firstly because it’s a decision that doesn’t necessarily need to be made. Arvidsson is a player that could jump on any line and make it better. While Tolvanen isn’t as flexible as Arvidsson and is in a bit of a slump, he completely re-energized the miserable Predators power play. For all the things that Viktor Arvidsson can do, he doesn’t have Tolvanen’s pure shooting lethality. But that’s okay, and Arvidsson could still play elsewhere on the lineup to make space for Tolvanen. It just seems like maybe John Hynes is overcorrecting or overthinking this decision—but see also the possibility that Tolvanen might not be 100%.

The power play without Eeli Tolvanen was 24th in the NHL. With Tolvanen, it was the 12th-best unit in the league. There are some tough roster decisions that have to be made, but Tolvanen is a player who can singlehandedly win you games through the power play. He has to be in the lineup tonight.

Three Reasons to Watch

  1. It’s playoff hockey, why wouldn’t you?
  2. Oh, right, you might not because the NHL buried the game on CNBC.
  3. Or because the Bally Sports scorebug is miserable, which is fair. But let’s not kid ourselves, you’re still watching.

Sights and Sounds

The game begins at 7:00 CT in Raleigh, NC. You can watch the game on CNBC or Bally Sports.