Eleven in a row. The Nashville Predators are currently riding an 11 game regular season winning streak against the Colorado Avalanche. It’s about time that streak ends.
If the Colorado Avalanche want to prove they are legitimate contenders in the Central Division, tonight’s game in Nashville will be a good barometer. After eliminating the Avs in the first round of last year’s playoffs, the Predators lead the season series after picking up a 4-1 victory at the Pepsi Center three weeks ago.
Playing their best hockey of the season, the Avalanche have brought home 13 of a possible 14 points over their last seven games.
The Avs have won their last four games on the road while the Preds are working on a six game home winning streak. Something is going to have to give tonight.
Last time these two teams met, the Predators were led by a Colton Sissons hat trick (that can’t be right?!) so while they’re missing some key pieces of their lineup, Nashville has the kind of depth that will make every game a difficult one.
With their dads along for the trip, the Avalanche spent yesterday having a little fun in Nashville - keeping loose for what should be an incredibly tight-checking game against a division rival.
With the way Nashville is able to shut down a game, it’s imperative that the Avs come out quickly tonight. While the Avalanche do a lot of heavy lifting in the season half of the game, the Predators have only given up 13 third period goals this season.
At the top of the league’s scoring race, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon each have nine in his previous four games while J.T. Compher has three goals in his two games since returning from the IR.
Coach Bednar announced this morning that Tyson Barrie will not play due to injury. We will also see Gabriel Bourque and Sven Andrighetto in the lineup for Sheldon Dries and Vladislav Kamenev.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost - Alexander Kerfoot - Colin Wilson
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Matt Calvert
Sven Andrighetto - J.T. Compher - Gabriel Bourque
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Tyson Barrie
Nikita Zadorov - Patrik Nemeth
The Predators come into tonight’s game having won four of their last five games, despite playing without some of their top players. The are tied with Tampa Bay for top spot in the NHL and they’re doing it on the strength of their team defense and goaltending. Their 2.38 goals against per game is by far the best in the league.
P.K. Subban has been out of the lineup since November 13th. He has been skating, and while he hasn’t yet been medically cleared to play, he appears to be nearing a return.
The Preds are also without Viktor Arvidsson, who has been out with a broke thumb since November 11th and they will now be missing Kyle Turris who was just added to the injury reserve yesterday after leaving Friday night’s game.
Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - Austin Watson
Kevin Fiala - Calle Jarnkrok - Craig Smith
Colton Sissons - Nick Bonino - Ryan Hartman
Zac Rinaldo - Frederick Gaudreau - Miikka Salomaki
Roman Josi - Ryan Ellis
Dan Hamhuis - Mattias Ekhlom
Matt Irwin - Yannick Weber
No confirmation yet, but we’re likely to see Pekka Rinne in net for the Predators. Renne has been absolutely outstanding this season and is putting himself in a position to win his second straight Vezina. He comes into the game with a 10-2-1 record and a league-leading .942 sv%.
Semyon Varlamov is expected to get his second straight appearance in Colorado’s net. He comes in with a .926 sv% after a very solid 27 save effort on Saturday against the Stars.