Nashville Predators vs. New York Rangers Preview: 99 Problems

The most-hated man in Nashville is coming to town - and for the first time in five years it’s not Ryan Suter

Jimmy Vesey-mania comes sweeping in to Nashville tonight when the New York Rangers pay a visit to Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators desperately need a win coming off a disappointing 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. The loss was just the Preds third regulation loss at home; they have a 10-3-2 record at Bridgestone Arena.

New York comes to town as one of the hottest teams in the league, winning four of the last five games and present a tough matchup for Nashville coming off a disappointing loss.

These two have split their season series over the last three years, with each team winning on home ice last year.

The New York Rangers

The Rangers lead the NHL in wins (21) and are tied with the Penguins for 1st place in the Eastern Conference.

With the defensive problems Nashville has be having lately, the second-highest scoring team in the league - 3.38 goals-per-game - is not exactly who they would like to see right now. In addition to having a high-powered offense, the Rangers give up the sixth-least amount of goals (2.22) in the league.

New York boasts a well-rounded team and very much could represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. All eyes will be on former Predators prospect Jimmy Vesey. The Harvard product is fourth on the Rangers in goals (10) and tied for sixth on the team in points (17).

The Nashville Predators

The Predators are 4-5-1 all-time against the Rangers at home - although they have won the last two.

Several Predators have some streaks going heading into this game. Colin Wilson has a six-game home point streak – three goals and five assists. Ryan Johansen has 12 points in his last 11 games; including four multi-point games and a three-game assist streak. Viktor Arvidsson, the team’s second-leading goal scorer, is riding a career-high five game point streak into Saturday’s game as well.

Captain Mike Fisher is having one of his best statistical seasons to date. He has three goals in his last two games, has scored 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 12 home games, and is just one goal shy of his 100th goal as a member of the Predators.

Nashville still leads the Western Conference in goals-per-game (2.97) and ranks sixth overall in the NHL. They have outscored their opponents 53-33 at home, and their +20 home goal differential ranks fourth in the league. They will need that offense to kick in, the sooner the better, because the Rangers are a team you do not want to spot multiple goals to.

Reasons to Watch

  1. Jimmy freakin’ Vesey. The biggest reason to watch this game is to see how the Nashville crowd receives him and how he responds. Vesey has stated getting booed doesn’t bother him and he didn’t even notice it when the Buffalo fans booed him. I guarantee what he heard in Buffalo will not hold a candle to what’s coming his way in Nashville.
  2. The Predators appear to be at a cross-road in their season. They are desperate for points and have played their best hockey at home. Can this be the game where they finally put it all together and produce a full 60-minute team effort?
  3. Viktor Arvidsson. This kid is dynamic. If you don’t enjoy watching Arvi play then you may not have a pulse. He is fast, he covers every inch of the ice, he will shoot from anywhere, and he is seemingly the only Predator playing with a sense of urgency on every shift. He has a five-game point streak going - look for him to continue that against the Rangers.

Song of the Game (*NSFW)

99 Problems - Jay-Z

Sights & Sounds

You can watch the game on FS-TN or the Fox Sports Go app. You can also listen to it live on 102.5 The Game radio. Puck drops at 7:00pm CST.