Nashville Predators @ New Jersey Devils Preview: More Of That

The Predators showed some gusto pulling out a road victory in Philly last night. Can we do that again?

The Predators will look to build upon their surprising shootout win in Philadelphia last night with a trip to New Jersey to play the Devils.

For 40+ minutes last night, the Predators looked dead in the water. The Flyers were pressing almost the entire game, generating tons of quality chances and limiting the Predators chances in the offensive end. Pekka Rinne kept the Preds in the game with 31 saves, but it wasn’t until Filip Forsberg finally tallied to tie the game that the Preds had a chance.

With the score 1-1, the game went to overtime and then a shootout. WE WERE ALL NERVOUS AND THEN RYAN ELLIS SCORED AND RINNE STOPPED ALL THE SHOTS AND WE BECAME HAPPY AGAIN.

And that catches us up to tonight, where the Preds play...

The New Jersey Devils

The Devils don’t score a ton of goals. In 31 games, they’ve put up 72 goals, good for 2.32 goals per game, which puts them at 25th in the league. The guys that get it done are Mike Cammalleri (9), Travis Zajac (8), and Taylor Hall (8). Interestingly, those three combined for seven points in the Devils’ comeback overtime win over the Predators on December 3rd, with Cammalleri getting the game-winner. Kyle Palmieri has had a slow start with only four goals on the season, well behind his usual pace. But anyone of these guys can put up goals and the Preds will have their work cut out.

On defense, the Devils don’t really have a true top pairing, though I guess Andrew Greene and Damon Severson would be the most likely candidates. John Moore and Kyle Quincey are right there as well, plus Ben Lovejoy. None of them scare you too much, though John Moore has five goals and is shooting 11%. Top goalie Cory Schneider hasn’t been himself this year with a .906 save percentage in 23 games— a 17 point drop from his career average.

The Devils don’t strike anyone as a particularly dangerous team, despite having some players that can make you worry. Hall, Zajac, Palmieri are all great players, but at even strength, the team overall just doesn’t generate much offense. Here’s where the Devils stack up in terms of shot attempts for and shot attempts against (courtesy of HockeyViz):

They are among the worst teams in the league at generating shot attempts during even strength play. They are somewhat better defensively, but not good enough to make a difference in the win column very often.

The Devils sit at 7th in the Metro with 31 points in 31 games. The way things look on paper, that record fits the bill for this team.

The Nashville Predators

You need to pull out some wins that you have no business winning every now and then in this league. The Preds did that last night.

Going into last night’s game against Philly, the Preds were a bad road team that couldn’t stop the puck and couldn’t win in overtime or the shootout. They went down a goal early, but showed that they could overcome their past performances and somehow pull out a victory. Good on you, Preds.

Pekka Rinne was a big reason for the win. Not only did he stop all three shots in the shootout, he made some huge saves in regulation that kept the Preds in it. Here’s where the Flyers were shooting from during even strength:

That’s a lot of big saves right up close to Rinne there, with two coming from a great shooter in Travis Konecny. Notice anything else? Only one shot from Wayne Simmonds anywhere close to the slot. Simmonds was a huge problem in the Flyers 4-2 win a few weeks ago (albeit on the power play) but the Preds were able to prevent those dangerous scoring chances from dangerous players like Simmonds, Giroux, Voracek, and others.

The Predators will need to rev up the offense tonight—and make sure to keep the engine purring all night. In the last game against the Devils, the Preds blew a 4-1 lead in the 3rd period and then lost in overtime. Let’s not do that again, please.

Reasons To Watch

  • Juuse Saros will likely be in net tonight. He has a .946 save percentage in four games this season. That’s real good. He should give the Preds a chance to win tonight.
  • Filip Forsberg scored his 4th of the year and it came from a wicked wrist shot from the circle a smart deflection in front of the net. Good things happen at the front of the net. Players like Forsberg should continue to go there. See if he does that again tonight.
  • Ryan Ellis is on a roll. After getting only three points in his first 11 games of the season, he has seven points, including four goals, in his last 11 games. Also, his partnership with Josi has blossomed into a Corsi machine. See if those two can get on the score-sheet again tonight. /

The Important Details

6:00 PM start tonight! Tune in early! FS-TN for TV and 102.5 The Game for radio.