by Jackson Walsh
Halloween might be over, but the Predators are still treating their fans and tricking some opponents here in early November, continuing their winning streak with birthday boy Pekka Rinne, who turned 36 on Saturday, shutting down the Boston Bruins 1-0 on home ice. They’ll continue to keep the wins going in a Western Conference showdown at the Pepsi Center with the Colorado Avalanche (7-4-3, 17 pts) who just lost a barn burner 7-6 to the Vancouver Canucks in overtime.
These two teams latest bout with each other came in last year’s Western Conference Quarterfinals, and Preds fans liked the outcome of that, a 4-2 series win. The Avalanche were a strong contender then though, and they’re still a strong contender now despite losing four of their last five.
Their first line is their most lethal weapon, Nathan McKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog. Combining for an insane 243 points last season, these three are poised to do it again at 63 combined points, coming from 27 goals and 36 assists. Probably the chief reason the Avs lead the league in scoring with a whopping 52 goals right now. Their record is a bit of a misnomer with the success they’ve had at home.
With Arvidsson still possibly game, the JoFA line has stalled out as well. While it is possible for Arvi to play on Wednesday it is likely that Fiala will step in that top line. While it might not be as effective, the speed and chances will be there, but production or lack thereof could be the difference maker.
It’s good to see Pekka in the lineup especially after the shutout, he had us all worried against Calgary, but he has his hands full. He’ll need the protection when that top line brings offensive pressure, something even through dominant wins has been a bit of a weakness
Injury-wise, there are a few missing pieces. For the Avs, right winger Sven Andrighetto, centers J.T. Compher and Tyson Jost, and defenseman Conor Timmons with no definitive timetable for a return, as well as the Preds with Viktor Arvidsson, Dan Hamhuis, and Zac Rinaldo all unsure for the contest Wednesday.