Penguins at Predators
Bridgestone Arena | Nashville, TN
8:00PM Eastern | AT&TSN-PT | FS-TN
The hockey. It is back.
And tonight, the Penguins embark on a back-to-back, home-and-home series with the Nashville Predators.
You may remember the Nashville Predators from hit series like The 2017 Stanley Cup Final.
For the Penguins, tonight’s game is their first chance to get back in the win column following last Saturday’s disappointment in Vancouver, entering the holiday break on the heels of a 4-1 defeat to the Canucks after outscoring the Flames and Oilers by a total score of 9-3 to kick off the western Canada road trip.
That brought them to a very average 7-7-2 record on the road, but are 7-3-0 in their last 10.
The Penguins will continue to be without the services of Sidney Crosby, Nick Bjugstad, Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz, your Uncle Frank, and that stray dog down the street, calling up Joseph Blandisi, Thomas DiPauli, and Kevin Czuczman from WBS.
As a result, they will look to the top line of Guentzel-Malkin-Rust to carry the load at 5-on-5.
Over the 18 games and 180:52 of 5v5 play they’ve seen together this season, they’ve simply taken teams to the cleaners.
As a line, they own a 57.89% share of shot attempts, 61.13% share of unblocked attempts, 65.01% share of expected goals, 61.90% share of scoring chances, and 65.15% share of high danger chances (via NaturalStatTrick.com).
They’re also outscoring their opposition 13-7.
Quite simply, they are ripping teams apart offensively and smothering them defensively. They’re a deadly trio at the moment.
Guentzel – Malkin – Rust
ZAR – McCann – Kahun
Simon – Blueger – Tanev
Galchenyuk – Blandisi – Lafferty
Pettersson – Marino
Riikola – Ruhwedel
Nashville comes into this game winners of their last 2, giving them a 6-2-2 record over their last 10. They’re 10-6-4 at home, a very middle-of-the-road record for a team that has a history of making Bridgestone a fortress.
They’re currently 1 point out of a playoff spot with games in hand on everyone above them as they sit on 42 points through 36 games.
As you’d expect, their firepower comes from the blueline, led by Roman Josi and his 14 goals, 21 assists and 35 points. Ryan Ellis, his partner, comes in as second in points on this team with 6G-22A-28P across 36 games.
Josi, though, makes everything tick for this team. His 35 points and 0.97 points per game are 2nd-most in the league among defensemen as he takes a very liberal approach to the defenseman position. Expect to see him cover every square inch of ice over the next two games.
Jarnkork – Johansen – Arvidsson
Grimaldi – Duchene – Granlund
Blackwell – Turris – Smith
Forsberg – Bonino – Sissons
Josi – Ellis
Ekholm – Fabbro
Hamhuis – Irwin
One thing you can probably expect tonight is a tight-checking, low scoring game.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, neither of these two teams really give up a whole lot to their opposition and tend to generate an equal amount of offense.
With so little being there between these two, we could be in for a game that’s decided by two mediocre at best powerplay units. But if solid, defensive hockey gets your motor going, this is the game for you.
Trap the Predators.