Predators look to end skid against Boston Bruins

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays. Or no place like Boston, close enough. Right before the NHL’s Christmas break, the Predators (22-12-2, 46 points) hope to have one last win under the tree going on the road to face the Boston Bruins. Remember fans, this is an early game, 1:00 pm ET/12:00 CT. So get some breakfast and flip on the television.

Our boys are wondering what they have to do to get out of the rut they’ve been in the last week or so. Not only have they lost the last three, but have just been unable to put the puck in the net as of late.

Only 5 goals our last three contests and, while not without their moments, not a lot of scoring from our current top line. Kevin Fiala and Ryan Hartman are the ones who’ve replaced the blown tires on that motor around Ryan Johansen in the stead of Arvidsson and Forsberg. The only game they got over a goal combined was last week against the Canucks.

They are three very talented playmakers and scorers, so it’s beyond me why they haven’t found the back of the net as late. As for the Bruins, Patrice Bergeron is looking to return Saturday to their top line alongside Brad Marchand and bumping down Danton Heinen.

The 19-12-4 Bruins are yet another average to good Eastern Conference team, probably a future playoff team, we must face. As of late we’ve struggled in these games. Nevertheless, we’re still only two points behind the dreaded Jets in the Central with still more than half the season left and in a good spot standing wise for playoff contention.

The projected lineup for us is as follows:

Kevin FialaRyan JohansenRyan Hartman
Craig SmithKyle TurrisCallie Jarnkrok
Austin WatsonNick BoninoMikka Salomaki
Zac RinaldoFrederick GaudreauAnthony Bitetto
Yannick WeberRoman Josi
Ryan EllisDan Hamhuis
Matt IrwinAnthony Bitetto

While the Bruins have a mountain of injury (with the possible exception of Bergeron if he returns) similar to ours, the one impressive stat about this squad is the fact that they lead the league in goals allowed with only 89. The duo of Jaroslav Halak and the longtime Bruin Tuukka Rask combining for a .923 save percentage is pretty lethal.

So in short, to win today, we have to score like I know we can. Part of that problem is our lack of ability to get shots on goal early and often and our sluggish power play. That two minutes with a two-man advantage and no goals Thursday is still disconcerting. While the night is still young on the NHL season, we have a lot to overcome for the 2019 end of the campaign. I’m seeing this be another close 2-1 loss and something to reflect on before proceeding forward.

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