by Jackson Walsh
The Nashville Predators look to continue their red hot December, in which they have gone 6-0-1, against the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena. The second of five matchups between the two clubs, the first of which was a 5-3 Nashville win on November 20 Both teams are currently in the top 3 spots in the Central Division, Nashville leading and the Jets in third by only three points with 43. The Preds and Blues are tied at the top of the Central Division with 46 and also hold the lead in the Western Conference.
The Jets have some lethal offensive strength, led by team point leader right-wing Blake Wheeler with 8 goals and 31 assists. Goalie Connor Hellebuyck is having a great season between the pipes with a 2.45 goals allowed average and .920% save percentage. The team that, funny enough, used to play in Atlanta, Georgia and had little to no identity or presence in the league, are now finding their groove as a possible playoff contender.
Winnipeg is another team near identical to the Preds, some strong goaltending and players able to produce results. It makes for a good, old fashioned division rivalry with one of the many teams from Canada. Their last time out with the Jets, on Monday November 20, the Predators dominated the game building a 5-1 lead before conceding two late goals to make the contest closer than it actually was. That’s just the perseverance of Winnipeg, they never give up.
The Jets are dealing with a significant injuries though. Defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom are out on Injured Reserve with lower-body injuries. Byfuglien, who has led all Jets defensemen over the last couple of years is having a bit of a down year, but still has has 15 assists this year and is very solid in the own end. Despite his lack of goal scoring, his absence, is a significant loss to the team.
The Predators, though, are on a mini cloud nine after utter dominance in their Western Canadian road trip, outscoring Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary 13-1 in the process. Both Rinne and Saros had unbelievable shutouts in the process. The Jets have split their last four, and are coming off of a 4-0 victory over St. Louis.
Predators 4, Jets 2