Winners of four of their last five games, the Nashville Predators traverse the border for a pair of games in the province of Ontario this week, before returning home for their Saturday tilt against the Florida Panthers.
While the past five games have all been decided by a single goal, the Preds have stuck to a game plan that calls for strong and steady defense, followed by timely scoring from their top unit of Mike Ribiero centering Filip Forsberg and James Neal.
The Preds currently boast the second stingiest defense in the NHL, allowing just 35 goals through their first 17 contests. The St. Louis Blues play a big part in that number, as they were able to net 4 vs. Nashville in handing them their only loss of the week this past Thursday. By beating the Preds at home, 4-3, St. Louis has now jumped into first place in the Central Division with 25 points, (to Nashville’s 24) and has won nine of their last ten games.
Rebounding from their defeat in St. Louis, Nashville came back to entertain the home faithful on Saturday night, and rewarded the fans with an exciting win 2-1 over the Winnipeg Jets. Craig Smith potted the game winner, breaking a 1-1 deadlock with just a little over two minutes left in regulation.
Tuesday the Predators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs, an “original six” NHL team who should be looking for a reversal of fortunes, as their most recent game was a humbling 6-2 defeat at the hands of the league’s worst team, the Buffalo Sabres. The Leafs are always under the microscope in their home town, and the Eastern Canadian media will get a good first-hand look at the new-look Preds and their solid play under coach Peter Laviolette.
Thursday the team shifts to the nation’s capital, Ottawa, for a game against the Senators. Nashville faced Ottawa on opening night here at Bridgestone, and set the tone for the great start to the season with a 3-2 victory, including goals by Smith, Shea Weber, and Eric Nystrom.
On Saturday, in a 7:00PM start, the Preds host the Florida Panthers, who feature a few of the hottest new youngsters on the NHL scene. First pick overall in the 2014 draft, Aaron Ekblad has fit in nicely on the Panthers blueline, and is currently second on the team in scoring. 22 year old sophomore Nick Bjugstad has continued to improve his game, and is quickly developing into a top line center. Roberto Luongo gives the Cats a solid effort in nets night in and night out.
Saturday’s game is the start of a four game homestand that will take us through the end of November. Tuesday, November 25, the Preds host the 2013-14 Stanley Cup winning Los Angeles Kings. At this game, you can support the Predators Food Drive, presented by United Healthcare. You can bring unperishable food items (peanut butter, canned tuna, chicken, vegetables, etc.) to Bridgestone Arena throughout the day, and of course, on your way into the game. All donations will be given to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.
We’re back next week as we continue to cover our Preds, who give us thanks for their competitive spirit, winning ways, and most definitely the most exciting live sport in North America! Let’s Go Predators!