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Nashville Predators vs. Vegas Golden Knights Preview: Make it Three?

We’ve got greens, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, lamb, ram, and hog maws to look forward to tomorrow.  But tonight, we have hockey at Bridgestone Arena!

The Predators are coming off impressive back-to-back wins over St. Louis, which snapped a run of six straight losses.  The next handful of games should show whether those games were a sign that the tide’s starting to turn a bit for the Preds.

It gets started tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Matchup

This is the second time the Predators and Golden Knights have met this season.  The first game, back in October, saw the Preds rally back from an abysmal first period to secure a 5-2 win.  The win was also one of Pekka Rinne’s best performances of the season, as he stopped 33 shots, including 5 high danger chances.

Obviously, the Preds have quite a different look this time around.  In terms of the lineup, don’t expect too many changes from the squad that took down St. Louis on Monday.  That includes Daniel Carr returning to the second line with Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund.  Carr stole the headlines for his shootout winner, but even before that, he seemed to have good chemistry with his linemates, which was impressive considering that the three hadn’t played together before.

The line of Rocco Grimaldi, Nick Bonino, and Craig Smith have been the stars of the past couple of games.  The trio had an 83 CF% in the last game, with .51 xG to their opponents’ .07.  Those stats weren’t coming in throwaway minutes either.  Head coach Peter Laviolette has been putting the three out against many of the opponent’s top lines.

The Predators’ goaltending situation will be something to watch over the next handful of games.  Since posting back-to-back shutouts at the end of October, Rinne’s given up 25 goals in his last 6 starts.  He’s obviously going to get some chances to play his way out of a slump.  But in the meantime, Juuse Saros (.943 save% in his past four starts), should get more starts as long as he keeps up his hot play.

On the other side, Vegas is desperate for any sort of momentum right now. They’ve lost 8 of their last 10 games.  On paper, most of their key cogs are contributing, but the Knights seem to have trouble getting the offense, defense, goaltending, and special teams firing at the same time.

Marc-Andre Fleury will likely get the start for the Golden Knights, and so far this year, Vegas’s luck has hinged on how much their ace can keep them in the game. As our SB Nation frenemies at Knights On Ice pointed out, Vegas is 10-0-1 this season when Fleury posts a save percentage above .900 in a game.  When he’s below that mark?  1-7-1.

On the plus side for Vegas, they have one of the hottest lines in the league rolling right now; Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, and Mark Stone.  Pacioretty, in particular, has been on a tear, with seven points in his past six games.

Reasons to Watch

  • A chance to see a three-game winning streak!
  • Yelling at a Predators turnover > Yelling at your Uncle Ronnie for his political takes at Thanksgiving Dinner
  • It’s really fun to say “Jonathan Marchessault” five times fast
  • Let’s be honest, Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is the weakest of the Peanuts Holiday specials/

Tonight’s Song to Get You HYPEDDDDD

It’s one day before Thanksgiving…

How to Watch

The action gets started tonight at 7 P.M. CST.  You can watch the game on Fox Sports Tennessee, or listen on the radio on 102.5 The Game.

Talking Points