by Jackson Walsh
Here we go gang. Time for some more hell-raising, teeth-jarring, bone-crunching Nashville Predators hockey as we welcome the New York Islanders into town. This comes exactly a week after the Predators outlasted the Isles 4-3 last week in Brooklyn, and since then, New York has only played one game, defeating the San Jose Sharks 4-0 on Monday.
For a sport that generally doesn’t have many gaps in scheduling like NHL hockey, where teams play seemingly every other night minus the All-Star Break, this was a peculiar set up for the Islanders (2-1-0, 4 pts), a team as said before is constantly looking to rise again to being a contender.
Coming off this rest period, notable winger Andrew Ladd could return to the lineup in this game, hence making his season debut after suffering an injury with the team on September 16th yet skating with the team since October 3. Casey Cizikas also is a game time decision, more than likely out of the lineup, while the Predators (knock hard on wood) have not suffered a notable injury yet.
Much unlike the Preds, however, the Islander power play has been kicking into gear, having scored in the last three games. Their penalty kill is also a perfect 8-for-8, a challenge right away for the struggling Nashville power play at 0-for-15 in the first four games. However, some of that has an asterisk on it due to the brutally tough game the Jets played Thursday night, doubling up a lot of their penalty time. I doubt we’ll see New York or any upcoming opponents play with the same hard knocks for a while.
But the boys from the Island (is Brooklyn an island?) have won two straight in Music City, including a dominating 6-2 whipping of our boys last year on October 28. Our boys can score on the Islanders, they proved that by netting four on Thomas Greiss last week, generally an adequate netminder, last time out. They’ve actually been four of only five goals let in by him this season thus far. But can the Preds stop them from scoring is the question, as it was for the road game.
Hot players to watch for will be point leader Josh Bailey and Valteri Filppula, who will more than likely cover for Casey Cizikas as their third line center. The Predators’ impact players have been the entire JoFA line and I’ll give another nod to Ryan Hartman who has had a very good start to the season getting 3 points to start and doing what he does best; making plays. Especially that sweet steal and breakaway goal Thursday night, thing of beauty.
This will be the last time the Preds face the Islanders this season, so in October, we’re already going for a season sweep. Challenge accepted.