NHL Preview – Dallas Stars @ Nashville Predators

NHL Preview – Dallas Stars @ Nashville Predators

1am) Dallas Stars @ Nashville Predators

We have a southern-city showdown this evening in the Music City. The Nashville Predators will be hunting out the league top spot, hoping the emphasise their dominance in the toughest division in hockey as they welcome a challenge from the Lone Star State representative, the Dallas Stars.

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People have been vocal about the Stars slight downfall this season following their playoff campaign last season, but they’re still in the mix with five games to play. Lack of defensive depth and bad goaltending has hurt one of the most potent offences in the league. Also being in the division they’re in doesn’t help because they would have a spot if they were from the East. Their away form has helped them however as they’ve won 21 of their 39 contests on the road, 13th best in the league.

They currently sit a lowly 21st position in the league, 11th in the West and 6th in the Central, playoffs are within their grasp by six points with ten potential points left to earn. They travel to Tennessee without key offensive components in Travis Moen, Valeri Nichushkin and Rich Peverly. It’s likely that Kari Lehtonen will get the start between the sticks who’s had a disappointing campaign, posting numbers of 2.88 GAA and a .906 SV%. Lehtonen featured in two of the Stars contests against the Preds this season, posting an even worse 3.03 GAA and .895 SV%. The Stars have only managed 6 wins against divisional rivals this season, losing the other 20, with 10 coming on the road.

The Predators have been the biggest surprise this season. The acquisition and influence of Head Coach Peter Laviolette has been obvious as they’ve been playing some of the best Hockey in their history. They’ve been the team to beat at home ice this season, winning 28 contests from 39, second best in the league. They had only lost 3 at home by the end of 2014. They occupy 3rd in the league, 2nd in the West, and 1st in the Central, showing how amazing their progress this season has been.

The Predators will only be without Ryan Ellis for this game. It’s likely Pekka Rinne will be the go-to goaltender for this game after having one of his most successful campaigns in his career. The already elite goaltender has posted a 2.13 GAA and .925 SV% on the season, top three in the league. He started all three previous games this season against the Stars, winning all three and earning an amazing 1.67 GAA and a .932 SV%. He surrender only 5 goals across the three games on 73 shots. They’ve earned 15 wins from 25 contests against divisional rivals this season, with only 4 of the losses coming at home, all against top 5 opposition which Dallas aren’t.

Central division tilts have largely been considered some of the best shows of high quality hockey this season simply because the division has remained competitive from start-to-finish. That being said, the Predators meteoric rise to the top this season has been impressive, and to have a strangle over the division as well as their ridiculously good home form has made them one of the dangerous teams going to the playoffs. With three wins against the Stars already this season, I think they add another one in the two teams penultimate contest. Predators to win in regulation.


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