Having gone Oh-for-California, with losses in Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose, the Nashville Predators found themselves in a not-so-healthy hole, buried in last place in the ultra competitive Central Division of the National Hockey League.
On Tuesday, the team arrived in Denver for a game against division opponents, the Colorado Avalanche. While the Preds were buried under a 2-5-1 record with three consecutive losses, the Avs had started 4-3-0 and were coming off a victory in their last game. But, with Preds forward Craig Smith starting the scoring in the first period, and ending it in the third, Nashville went on to tally five times on the Avs, and beat them handily 5-1.
Preds netminder Pekka Rinne, recently wildly inconsistent, was terrific for the full sixty minutes, allowing just a single goal in the first period, and in total stopped 28 of 29 shots.
It hadn’t been much fun to that point on the Preds’ Western road trip. Losing 6-1 in Anaheim, and 3-2 in overtime to the Kings at Staples Center, and then heading north to San Jose, dropping a 4-1 contest where the Preds had their playoff hopes dashed in a rough Game 7 last post-season.
Tonight, the Preds look to build on their excellent play against Colorado with a solid sixty-minute effort against the Arizona Coyotes. Arizona has some tremendous young talent, but is not yet ready to dominate on a night-by-night basis. While ranked eighth in the league in goals scored, the Yotes are dead last (30th) in goals against, and with veteran goaltender Mike Smith out with an injury, the Preds hope to pounce on back up Louie Domingue or third-string Justin Peters, with a shoot early and often mentality.
Nashville is led in scoring by Filip Forsberg, who has seven points (all assists). Viktor Arvidsson and Craig Smith pace the team in goals with four a piece. As a team, Nashville is currently boasting the second best power play in the league, as well as the second worst penalty kill. However, the team has just two power play goals in their last sixteen attempts, and killed all four penalties against them in the Avalanche game.
Based on yesterday’s practice, the team may be without captain Mike Fisher tonight. Fisher suffered an upper-body injury Tuesday night and was not seen at practice on Wednesday. He did, however, send a tweet to his lovely wife Carrie Underwood, saying he was sorry he couldn’t be home to celebrate her Female Entertainer Of The Year award at last night’s Country Music Awards.
I must divert from hockey coverage for a brief moment to congratulate the Chicago Cubs, who won a thrilling 2016 baseball World Series, besting the Cleveland Indians in extra innings of the final and deciding game. The Cubs, who were down 3 games to 1 in a best of 7 series, won the final three games of the series, and were crowned champions for the first time since 1908. That’s 108 years if you do the math!
Back to hockey, the Predators return home for a four game homestand, with games on Saturday against Carolina, and Tuesday vs. Ottawa.
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