Nashville comes into tonight’s game on a three-game win streak and a five-game point streak. On Thursday the Predators defeated the league’s top team, the Washington Capitals. The Preds currently sit in third place in the Central Division with 81 points, just two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues.
The Predators took down the Caps in overtime thanks to goals by James Neal and Viktor Arvidsson. Neal’s goal was his 21st of the year. Neal joins only five other players to have recorded 20 goals in his first nine seasons — not bad for a guy who has been playing on the third line.
Arvidsson has had quite the year himself. The 23-year-old Swedish winger currently ranks second on the team in goals with 25 and third on the team in points with 51. He is part of the impressive top line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg that have combined for 65 goals and 159 total points. What’s ridiculous about this line is that Johansen is currently the oldest player on it at just 24 years old. This line will be together for many years to come.
The Preds’ depth isn’t fantastic, but their third line of Neal, Calle Jarnkrok, and P.A. Parenteau has been effective. All three players have over 10 goals and 27 points on the season. Parenteau has yet to find his scoring with the Predators after he was acquired at the trade deadline.
These two lines are likely to give the Canes fits. The Canes bottom six has been constantly getting reshuffled, even with Matt Tennyson getting looks at playing right wing. On top of this Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen will have their hands full on the wings trying to contain Forsberg and Arvidsson. Forsberg was the first player in four years to score eight goals in a four-game span.
That kind of skill and speed on the wing is going to test the defense and test goaltending that has been sub-par this season. Luckily for the Canes, they will have the last change being on home ice, and this may be the key to shutting down the line. The Canes are going to have to rely on Jaccob Slavin and Justin Faulk to shut them down. The pairings of Noah Hanifin - Brett Pesce and Ryan Murphy - Klas Dahlbeck don’t have the ability to contain three elite forwards at the same time.
- Nashville’s power play is surging, over the last 10 games they have converted on over 27% of their chances. This is up from their season average of 20.4%.
- Pekka Rinne is 6-1-1 with a 1.59 GAA in eight career appearances against Carolina. Juuse Saros has yet to face the Hurricanes in his career.
- The Canes trail the Preds in the all-times series 9-11-3-1, but won the only other game this season against the Preds in a shootout 3-2. The Canes have never shut out the Predators since the Predators introduction into the league.
- Nashville prefers playing at home as they have a 20-8-7 record at home as opposed to their 15-16-4 road record. Nashville has fared well against a strong Metropolitan Division with a 7-3-3 record which is not typical of a Western Conference team this season.