Preds vs Knights in Smash Vegas
by Jackson Walsh
The Nashville Predators look to defend their rank as the Western Conference’s number one team at Bridgestone Arena Friday against the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
It will be a night of firsts tonight for both teams squaring off on a cold, blustery night in December. It will be the first time well-known scorer James Neal has returned to Nashville as a non-Predator and the Predators first matchup with the brand new expansion team. Both teams look to extend a two-game winning streak to keep ground, or in the Predators case extend ground on the Central Division and Western Conference respectfully. It will also be a battle of the Subban brothers, Nashville’s own P.K. Subban and his younger brother, Vegas goaltender Malcolm Subban. The Predators will be without the services of 1st line center, Ryan Johansen, who was placed on Injured Reserve today with an upper-body injury.
Not only is the franchise history of Vegas very young, their younger players such as 26-year old Jonathan Marchessault, 24-year old William Karlsson, and 26-year old Reilly Smith, along with the 30-year old Neal, are all at the top of the team in points. Vegas can score, and score big. James Neal has 13 already this season, and combined with Marchessault and Karlsson, these three have tallied 37 goals. They are scoring 3.44 goals per game as a team but they are also allowing 3.11 goals per game.
All told, both teams are nearly identical, Nashville being 18-7-3 and the Knights being 17-9-1, each with a +9 goal differential and riding a two game win streak. The Predators have the advantage in the faceoff circle, winning 2% more of their draws. The Preds also have a sizable advantage on special teams, killing off 83.19% of their penalties as compared to the Golden Knights’ 76.47%. The Predators take advantage of power plays 27.35% of the time as compared to Vegas’ 17.89%. If the game should get to extra time, Vegas has an advantage, winning 6 of 7 OT games but the Preds have the advantage if it goes to a shootout. The bottom line is that e ach team is having a great season after making a splash in the offseason, and this matchup looks to be a barn burner in the tire barn.
Predators 5, Golden Knights 3
Projected lineup for the Preds
Kevin Fiala – Kyle Turris – Craig Smith
Filip Forsberg – Calle Jarnkrok – Pontus Aberg
Colton Sissons – Nick Bonino – Viktor Arvidsson
Cody McLeod – Frederick Gaudreau – Austin Watson / Miikka Salomaki
Roman Josi – Mattias Ekholm
Alexei Emelin – P.K. Subban
Anthony Bitetto – Yannick Weber