The Nashville Predators are looking to keep pace with the Winnipeg Jets for the top spot in the Central Division, and gain points in three important games this week. They will play the Minnesota Wild twice, once on the road and once at home. Then the Predators will take on the red hot Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night at home.

1) Sunday, Mar. 3 @ Wild- 7 p.m. ET – NBCSN

The Predators and Minnesota Wild will see some familiar faces that have switched sides in the Central Division matchup. Kevin Fiala and Anthony Bitetto are now with the Wild, while Markus Granlund is with the Predators. The Predators are a little bit deeper than the Wild since they have 12 players with 20 or more points while the Wild only have six on the active roster. The Wild hold a big advantage on the power play (21.6%) over the Predators, who have the worst power play percentage in the League (12.5%).

The Predators Will Win If….

They get good goaltending in the game and the starting goalie doesn’t allow any soft goals. The team will want to stay out of the penalty box since the Wild have a pretty good power play and can cash in on their opportunities. The Predators should get the first goal of the game and keep building from there. The more shots and traffic they get in front of the Wild net, the better chance the puck may end up in the back of the Wild net. 

Matchup of the Game

The goaltending will be the difference in this game. The teams don’t really score too many goals per game and the Wild are looking to extend their win streak to five games and put more distance between them and the teams behind them. The Predators have been struggling of late, and could use this game as a chance to turn around their season. The goalies are going to steal the show, even with all the talent on both sides, because they’ll make highlight reel saves and routine saves.

Game Prediction

The Predators pick up another two points in regulation in this game. They will win by a final score of 2-1. The Predators goals come from Mikael Granlund and Viktor Arvidsson. The Wild goal comes from Jason Zucker. There will be a late push by the Wild to tie the game, but they will fall just short.

2) Tuesday, Mar. 5 vs. Wild- 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN

The Wild look to grab two points in regulation in this game. The two teams will be coming off of battling each other in Nashville, but this time the Wild will have home ice, and that could be a good thing for them.

The Predators Will Win If…

The team cashes in on their power play advantages. The Predators have really struggled scoring goals while a man up for the caliber of players that are on the power play units. The Predators should take the shot, if it’s there, and not pass it up. The team should try to avoid the slow start because the Wild seem to get better as the game goes on. They need to be disciplined and not let the Wild get too many power play opportunities since they are good at cashing in on them.

Matchup of the Game

These two teams have defensemen that are not afraid to pitch in on the offensive side of the puck. The Predators’ starting six defensive corp has 165 combined points with Roman Josi (51), Ryan Ellis (35) and Mattias Ekholm (42) having 35 or more. The Wild’s starting six on defense have a combined 109 points, but the Predators will really need to watch out for Ryan Suter (42 points) and Jared Spurgeon (38 points). This should be interesting to see which team, if not both, activate their defensemen often and early in this game to try to get on the board early.

Game Prediction

The Wild get their revenge in this game and win in regulation by a final score of 3-2. The Wild goals come from Eric Staal (scores twice) and Kevin Fiala gets a goal against his former team. The Predators two goals come from Filip Forsberg and Wayne Simmonds, who will get his first goal with his new team. The Predators try for a late regulation push but it just doesn’t come.

3) Saturday, Mar. 9 vs. Hurricanes- 8 p.m.

The Carolina Hurricanes have a balanced lineup and have four lines that can put up points. The Predators have a relatively balanced lineup, but have been struggling to get big saves and put the puck in the net. Their even strength game is similar so this game could come down to the special teams.

The Predators Will Win If…

They can play a solid, defensive team game. The Hurricanes can score goals and have a good transition game. The Predators will want to have the lead after the second period since the Hurricanes aren’t very good at coming back from trailing after two periods. The Preds want to set the tone early and establish the forecheck early to get some offensive zone time. They’ll also want to get the first goal of the game to keep the crowd in the game.

Matchup of the Game

This game could very well come down to special teams specifically the teams’ power plays. The Hurricanes have the 22nd best power play, which isn’t great, but is better than the opposition’s. The Predators have the worst power play in the league at 12.5% and it has been around there all season long. The Predators will need to figure out a way to get some power play goals especially with the amount of talent they have on their two units.

Game Prediction

The Hurricanes will come away with another two points in this game. The final score will be 3-1 in regulation. The Predators goal is scored by Viktor Arvidsson. The Hurricanes three goals come from Sebastian Aho, Nino Niederreiter and Dougie Hamilton. 


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