Nashville Predators vs. New Jersey Devils Preview: All Systems Go
18 games to go in the regular season and the Preds are a points-gobbling machine right now. Thumps up emoji.
The Nashville Predators look to continue their win streak tonight in a matchup with the New Jersey Devils. The Devils enter tonight's game at 30-27-7 and continue to hold (dim) hopes for an Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The Predators are the better team on paper and have been the hotter team. These West vs. East mid-week matchups are sometimes a crap shoot, so the Preds will have to be ready to fight for 2 more points.
Nothing comes easy in the EN AYCH AYUL.
The New Jersey Devils
The playoffs were not out of the picture for the Devils in early February. And they technically still aren't. Sportsclubstats puts the Devils at a 4.6% chance of making the playoffs. They currently sit only 5 points out of the final wild card spot with 67 points, but they would have to leap Carolina and Philly and then supplant either Pittsburgh or Detroit for a wild card spot. No easy task. Add in that the Devils have gone 5-7-2 in the month of February and it may just be time to throw in the towel for Devils fans.
Also: the Devils are dead last in the league in scoring at 2.16 goals per game. Yikes. I'm surprised there are any towels left in New Jersey to throw. Despite that unfortunate stat, the Devils still have two 20 goal scorers in Kyle Palmieri and Adam Henrique. Palmieri is a nice success story, already setting a career high in goals for a season with 23. Coming over from Anaheim last year, he has really shined on the 2nd line with Travis Zajac. Of course, they traded Lee Stempniak, their leading scorer, to Boston, which means they are pretty aware of how dim their hopes are.
Keith Kinkaid will get the start in goal for the Devils. As an undrafted backup goalie, Kinkaid has managed a .914 career save % in 32 NHL games (23 starts). Not half bad. And since the Predators have a nasty habit of making backup goalies look better than they really are (see: Michal Neuvirth, Chad Johnson, Jonas Gustavsson, Eddie Lack, Louis Domingue, and many others) this could be a tough matchup. Many are opining for a Carter Hutton start tonight. We shall see...
The Nashville Predators
The Preds are 8-1-3 in their last 12 games, currently sitting on a 5 game win streak, and would be the hottest team in the NHL were it not for Anaheim and Tampa Bay. We are finally getting to see this team stretch its legs. No longer is the team waiting around for something to happen. No longer are they just watching the plays happen in front of them. They are making the plays happen. Creating scoring opportunities and then actually putting the puck in the net. Clearing out the space in front of Pekka Rinne and Carter Hutton, keeping dangerous players to the outside, so the goalies can make the stops they need to make. The whole team is stepping up and it is fun to watch.
But has anything really changed over the last 12 games that has caused this surge? Hard to say.
I went back and looked for something, anything that might reveal why all of a sudden this team is virtually unstoppable. Possession numbers look about the same. Shooting percentages are slightly higher, but not much. There's been increased goaltending play, that's for sure. But there has to be something more, right? Something deeper. Something powerful. Something... ancient.
Then I found it.
Filip Forsberg. Feelin’ it: pic.twitter.com/J9vmwODrtN— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) February 7, 2016
Something awoke the cosmic wrath of The Fil.
The Fil is a little known ancient demon from Lovecraft's Cthulu Mythos. It's one and only appearance was in a short-story called "Fil-Fozrah" found only in rare short-printed editions of The Spawn of Cthulu. Originally published in 1971, special gold-enameled copies of Spawn which featured the "Fil-Fozrah" story were made available in 1972, compiled by an unknown close friend of editor Lin Carter known only as "D.P." The mysterious "D.P." is said to have been a direct blood-relative to H.P. Lovecraft, but no one knows for sure. Some say that "D.P." is the outright author of the story, while others say it is a modified version of a story that Lovecraft himself was working on before he died in 1937.
The story of The Fil is terrifying, as you might imagine, so I won't go into all of the details. The Fil is said to have spawned from Nyarlathotep, the messenger of the Ancient Ones, who felt much pleasure in causing agony to the human race. Some say Nyarlathotep needed an ally in the great conflict for the realm between the Outer Realm and the Inner Realm (sometimes called The Central) and thus The Fil was born. He was later conquered and subdued by mankind and has been dormant for many years.
Anyways, as you can see in the above gif, something has awoken The Fil. In the last 12 games, it has 16 points (12g, 4a), has a shooting percentage of 26.7%, and has left a trail of destruction among the now unclaimed Central.
And now the Ancient Ones speak.
"Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise."
Reasons To Watch
- Carter Hutton? Paging Carter Hutton? STEP UP FANBOYS!
- Shea Weber looked A-OK in his start on Tuesday. Let's see the Captain keep it going.
- Mattias Ekholm was not named to the Swedish 2016 WC Team... yet. Matty Eck has something to prove. Watch him prove it tonight.
Because I am pretty sure the postman lost a package of mine recently.
The Important Details
7 PM puck drop at home tonight. TV: FS-TN, Radio: 102.5 The Game.