Nashville Predators vs Colorado Avalanche Preview: It's All About the Goalies

The Preds are 1-1 against their division rival this season, but tonight brings the Avalanche to Bridgestone Arena for Patrick Roy's first visit as Colorado's head coach.

The Stats

Colorado Avalanche Nashville Predators
Record 30-12-5 6th 21-21-7 21st
GF/Game 2.85 7th 2.37 25th
GA/Game 2.45 12th 2.88 20th
5-on-5 Close SF/60 28.9 16th 29.8 14th
5-on-5 Close SA/60 28.6 13th 27.6 9th
Fenwick Close 47.90 24th 49.80 16th
5-on-5 Close Save % .945 2nd .906 29th
5-on-4 GF/60 6.5 12th 7.2 7th
# of PP's/Gm 2.94 28th 3.08 27th
4-on-5 GA/60 5.7 11th 6.3 15th
# of PK's/Gm 3.02 4th 3.06 8th

Colorado Avalanche

While everyone focuses on the exciting group of forwards that Colorado boasts, the real story with the Avalanche has been the lights-out goaltending they've been getting from Semyon Varlamov, who ranks among the league leaders in overall save percentage. Varlamov was the center of the NHL's biggest controversy during the opening weeks of the season, after he was charged with assaulting his girlfriend in November (those charges were dropped a few weeks later).

OK, OK, but enough about the goalie. Which of Colorado's dreamy young scorers catches your eye? 1st overall draft pick Nathan MacKinnon? 2012 Calder Trophy winner Gabriel Landeskog? How about Paul Stastny, the target of a zillion trade rumors over the last few years?

As for leading scorer Matt Duchene, he's apparently arrived ready to strut up and down lower Broadway:

In many ways, the Avs are like the anti-Predators, loaded with talent up front as opposed to the blueline - in that sense, this sets up to be an entertaining game due to the contrast in styles.

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the most flamboyant member of the Avs organization, rookie head coach (and Hall of Fame goaltender) Patrick Roy. Ages ago he was one of the very first pro hockey players I spoke to in a post-game locker room, and by all appearances he hasn't mellowed since his playing days. During stoppages in play tonight, make sure to keep an eye on the Colorado bench to see what the old whackjob is up to.

Nashville Predators

The main story heading into this game is whether or not new goalie Devan Dubnyk gets his first Nashville start (UPDATE: he's in). His trade from Edmonton earlier this week shook up the fan base here, at a time when it was desperately needed. For a team headed to its second straight non-playoff season, there didn't seem to be much of a sense of urgency to change course.

The Dubnyk trade was especially important because it addressed two major issues on this roster in one stroke. Obviously, the addition of a proven, competent NHL goaltender shores up Nashville's most glaring need, but getting rid of Matt Hendricks and replacing him with just about anybody else (a Milwaukee callup or Rich Clune) is a positive. I understand how people love players like Hendricks, who has an infectious attitude and is clearly a good teammate, but the bottom line is that he was a terribly ineffective player for the Preds.

Being able to ditch his 4-year contract and snag some goalie help in return was a massive coup for David Poile, although we have to point out that it's his own mistake which is being corrected here.

Devan Dubnyk

#40 / Goalie / Nashville Predators



May 04, 1986

Can the Predators make a stand on home ice and move past Dallas into 5th place in the Central Division? We'll find out tonight starting at 7:00...