For the first time in the 2014-15 season, the Nashville Predators have lost back-to-back games at Bridgestone Arena. On Saturday afternoon, arch rival, the Detroit Red Wings, came to Nashville and the Predators gave up a 3-2 3rd period lead. The Preds would go on to lose the match-up 4-3.
The 1st period was back-and-forth between the two squads, as the Red Wings were the only team that was able to score in the 1st. A Brendan Smith (4) goal at 07:22 gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead at the end of the 1st period.
The 2nd period was dominated by the Predators. Detroit was able to get the 1st goal of the 2nd period from Drew Miller (4), but the Predators responded. Nashville was able to get 3 goals in the period from Matt Cullen (6) at 02:33, Mike Fisher (15) at 06:02, and a PPG from Shea Weber (15) at 16:08. All seemed right until the 3rd.
During the 3rd period, Detroit was able to get two goals from Alexey Marchenko (1) at 3:56 and a PPG from Tomas Tatar (25) to seal the deal for the Red Wings’ victory at 9:06. Nashville was unable to respond, and the Red Wings were able to win 4-3.
Tonight, the Preds travel north tonight to take down the Rangers at 6:00 pm CST at Madison Square Garden.
The New York Rangers (38-17-6) last played on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers. In a highly contested, high energy match-up between rivals, the Rangers lost to the Flyers by a score of 4-2. With a 2-2 tie going into the 3rd period, the Rangers gave up a short-handed, game-winning goal from Michael Del Zotto (8) and an EN goal to Wayne Simmonds to get the victory for the Flyers.
Rick Nash leads all Rangers with 58 points and 37 goals. In the assists category, Derick Brassard leads the team with 35 assists. New York’s All-World goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, is currently listed on IR for a strained blood vessel, and has been on there since 2/4/15. Jesper Fast is day-to-day with a sprained knee.
Keys to Watch
Rangers Land Yandle
The Rangers have landed a top player for the duration of the season, and for a push in the playoffs. New York acquired from the Arizona Coyotes Keith Yandle, Chris Summers and a 4th-round selection for the 2016 NHL Draft, and sent prospect Anthony Duclair, John Moore a 2016 1st-round draft pick and a 2015 2nd rounder to the Coyotes. Yandle is the key to the trade. An offensive-defenseman with 41 points this season, Yandle was one of the most-coveted players from many teams with needed help on the blue line. Yandle also has 26 PP points this season for Arizona. If in tonight, which is looking like a real possibility, Yandle will be tough to handle on the blue line, and could cause problems if the Preds struggle staying out of the box.
Special Teams will be big!
Nashville has to watch out for the Special Teams play of the Rangers tonight. New York is ranked 11th on the PP (18.8) and 10th on the PK (82.7). This team does well on the Special Teams and the Preds cannot squander their chances with the man advantage, and if they get into penalty trouble, New York can make you pay with players such as Rick Nash, newly-acquired Keith Yandle, and Martin St. Louis. With the play of Nashville in recent games, they need to take advantage of their abilities on Special Teams.
Face off %
Is there a more glaring problem with the play of Mike Ribeiro than his ability in the face off circle? Offensively, he does an excellent job, and that has shown. Tied for the team lead in points (52) is great, but as a top-line Center in the NHL, you must be able to win your face offs. Ribeiro is ranked 13th on the Nashville Predators roster with 42.5% on face offs. That is not good! On the other hand, Paul Gaustad is doing excellent with a 57.4% at the dot. Hopefully, Ribeiro will get better in his ability to win face offs, because this is his biggest weakness and could be the downfall in the playoffs!
Tonight’s match-up will be a tough test, no doubt. The Predators will get an early start tonight at MSG with a 6:00 pm CST start. The game will be covered on Fox Sports Tennessee or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Be sure to not miss any of your NHL-leading, Nashville Predators.