Nashville Predators vs New York Rangers Preview: Streakbusted
The Predators will look to start another winning streak this afternoon against the Rangers.
After the Predators experienced an incredibly disappointing loss to the Calgary Flames in a game they had led 2-0, then 4-1, and finally 5-4 with less than a minute remaining in regulation, they will look to get back on the right side of the win column today—the best remedy for an ugly loss is to put it away.
Personally, I shut the game off seconds before I had to see Matthew Tkachuk’s gamewinner, and I’m pretty happy with my life choices there. Hopefully the Preds are as able to move on.
The Nashville Predators
Filip Forsberg returned from injury on Thursday night against Calgary. He was held pointless in his return but nevertheless helped to control play. We’ll hope to see more from him today.
The Predators have been getting most of their scoring in the seven games since Forsberg was injured against the Vegas Golden Knights from unexpected sources.
Nick Bonino has four goals in the last two games and added a fifth in Forsberg’s first game out; Calle Järnkrok has four goals; Roman Josi has three. Bonino, Josi, and Ryan Ellis have led the team in points over that stretch with seven each, while Järnkrok and Colton Sissons have six and Rocco Grimaldi has five.
It’s great that the Predators have been getting contributions from their defenders and their depth forwards. (Järnkrok was moved up to the first line in Forsberg’s absence, but on a healthy Preds team he’s a bottom-six player.) A team needs those to be able to succeed.
Unfortunately, there are some healthy players who haven’t been contributing as much as might be wished. Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen, and Kyle Turris each have three points in the last seven games—Johansen’s three were all secondary assists—while Duchene has two in the six games he played and Mikael Granlund has been held entirely pointless over that seven-game stretch. Duchene did miss a game to injury and may not be 100% yet.
Ultimately, of course, it’s impossible to judge a player based on two weeks’ worth of games—it’s just as silly to do in October as it is in April. The difference in shooting percentage between two and three goals on sixteen shots on goal is a lot more than the difference between 20 and 21 goals on 160 shots on goal.
I think we’ll see more from the Preds’ big-ticket forwards, but I also think today would be a great time for that to start.
The New York Rangers
The rebuilding Rangers had a long losing streak earlier this season but have gotten back on the right foot. Their leading scorer and first-line center Mika Zibanejad will be missing today’s game due to injury. Big free-agent signing Artemi Panerin leads the team in goals (5) and is tied with second-line center Ryan Strome in points (10). We can expect to see Strome getting a temporary promotion today. Defender Anthony DeAngelo and winger Pavel Buchnevich round out the Rangers’ top five in scoring.
Defensively the Rangers have been scale-breakingly atrocious this season:
This viz by Micah Blake McCurdy looks at threat, or the risk/chance that any given shot will become a goal based on location, at 5v5 for all NHL teams. The Rangers are the purple box at the very bottom, giving up considerably more than any other team (over two goals per hour of 5v5 play) and not generating enough to match it. You can see the Preds above them if you look a good way up—about the same offensively, but much better defensively.
The King’s reign may be starting to come to an end, after many years of outstanding performance behind an atrocious defense. While it’s true that Henrik Lundqvist has started a technical majority of the Rangers’ ten games with six, he was pulled two periods into their most recent loss, and backup Alexandar Georgiev, who started the next game, has a .924 sv% on the season to Lundqvist’s .906.
We’ve written Lundqvist off before and been wrong, but age and workload may finally be catching up to him. Goaltending, whether from Lundqvist or Georgiev, will be huge for the Rangers today as it has been for the rest of the season.
Reasons to Watch
- What, like you’re doing something else on a Saturday afternoon?
- The best cure for a loss is a win, and it’d be nice if the Preds got us one./
How to Watch
The game starts at 1:00 Central. If you’re not attending in person at Bridgestone Arena, you can watch it on FS-TN or listen to the call on 102.5 The Game.
Statistics courtesy of naturalstattrick.com and hockeyviz.com.