Keys to Watch
An Emotional Return
Tonight, the Nashville Predators welcome in the Montreal Canadiens to Bridgestone Arena. This is no ordinary night in Nashville. The Canadiens will bring in former Nashville Predators captain, Shea Weber. It was a difficult separation between Weber and the team. Weber has stated that he wanted to spend the remainder of his career in Nashville, but this was a business decision. He is having a great year with nine goals and twelve assists on the season with a +16 rating. The Predators and Weber will have an emotional homecoming, but once the puck drops, it will be all business for all parties involved.
Blue Line–Minus Subban
The other fixture of the trade that sent Weber to Montreal was P.K. Subban. He has been placed on Injured Reserve for the next two to three weeks with an upper-body injury. This has been a difficult card that Nashville has been dealt with their high-priced defenseman out. Other than Subban, the defensive corps has played quite well and been strong over the span of Subban’s absence. Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi have played at a high level while Matt Irwin has been a revelation for the Preds. Nashville will continually need the defensive corps to play strong for the remainder of the season.
The Montreal Canadiens are producing this season and much of that can be attributed to the leadership and an improved offensive squad from a year ago. The Canadiens have the fifth ranked offense in the league scoring 112 goals this season and 3.03 goals scored per game. Much of their offensive success can be attributed to three players: Max Pacioretty, Alexander Radulov, and Paul Byron. Pacioretty has fifteen goals and fifteen assists with seven power-play points this season. Byron is second on the team with twelve goals and eleven assists. The wild-card to their offensive success is one Alexander Radulov. Now, there is no love lost with the Nashville fans with Radulov. He was supposed to be the offensive scorer Nashville never had, but he bolted for the KHL, to only come back and cause issues in the locker room. Radulov has played great for Montreal with eight goals and is second on the team with eighteen assists. The Predators defense will have to contend with a potent offensive squad in the Canadiens.
Tonight, will be an emotional night in Smashville with the return of, in most estimations, the greatest player ever drafted by the Nashville Predators. 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!