On Tuesday night, the Nashville Predators welcomed the St. Louis Blues into Bridgestone Arena for their first game back since the NHL All-Star break. The first two periods were contested on both ends of the ice, but no team was able to score. Pekka Rinne played amazing with two periods of shutout hockey. The third period was more of the same style of play. At 18:55, Alex Pietrangelo made a shot towards the net and Troy Brouwer (10) tipped-in the game-winner to give the Blues a 1-0 victory in Nashville.
Keys to Watch
No help for Rinne
Tuesday night reminded me of many of the Barry Trotz teams before the entry of Peter Laviolette. Fans of Trotz’s teams remember the nights of very close games where the Preds would go down to the wire. Pekka Rinne or the goaltender at the time would put up a good performance, but it wasn’t good enough. Rinne was great on Tuesday. The offense did not back up his performance and cost the team two points. Nashville needs to learn balance with their play. The team will get a great offensive effort, but no defense, or vice-versa. The Preds need to put up a solid effort of offensive production and solid defense against a tough Philadelphia squad.
Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek are the driving force of the Philadelphia Flyers team. Both players are in the top two in points and assists for their team (Giroux-40 points, 26 assists–Voracek-39 points, 31 assists). Voracek has been trending throughout the NHL over the last five games with eight points over this span. Michal Neuvirth has played exceptional this season, when given the opportunity in net for the Flyers. This season, Neuvirth leads the NHL in save percentage with .933 and is 9th overall with a 2.14 goals-against average. The Nashville Predators will have to contend with a Flyers squad that has players having exceptional years for their squad. This is definitely not a fly-over game. (Editors note: since completion of this preview, it was announced that Steve Mason would start in net for the Flyers)
A Disappearing Act
In the last five games, Filip Forsberg has been a magician, and not in a good way. Forsberg has one point in his last five games, an empty-net goal against Edmonton on January 23rd. In the last ten games, the Ostervala, Sweden native has three points. Granted, Forsberg’s game is more than just scoring, but the Preds need him to step up. His ability to finish with the puck is a trademark of his offensive game. Nashville needs him to be an offensive help, especially since the entry of Ryan Johansen to the lineup. He’s struggling right now and the Preds are in need of his talents.
The Nashville Predators will look to get the taste of a bad outing against the Blues out of their mouth as they welcome in the Philadelphia Flyers tonight to Bridgestone Arena. Be sure to catch all of the action on Fox Sports-Tennessee or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 7:00 pm!