Despite having only two games this week, it was still a busy one for the Nashville Predators. They started the week off with a home game against Tampa Bay and finished with a trip to Newark, New Jersey. Sandwiched between both of these games was a pretty neat moment; Predators’ defenseman P.K. Subban was invited to be on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
Subban spoke on his time with Montreal and his transition to Nashville. However, what garnered the most attention was his charity work. Subban recently donated 10 million dollars to the Children’s Hospital of Montreal, and he instituted a buddy program in Nashville for police and less-fortunate children. Not only is Subban one of the most charitable athletes in the NHL, but he is also set to captain the Central Division All-Stars this weekend.
Tuesday (1/23) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: 4-3 loss (OT)
The Nashville Predators started their week by hosting the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lighting are the current favorites to win the President’s Trophy, the award given to the team with the best record at the end of the regular season. On Tuesday, Tampa Bay was playing the back end of a one-and-one, so Nashville head coach Peter Laviolette made the decision to start backup goalie Juuse Saros.
The first period was a wild one, to say the least. In a four-minute span, four goals were scored. The Lighting scored first, but before they had time to celebrate, they found themselves on the penalty kill. On the ensuing power play, Ryan Ellis took a pass from Roman Josi and blasted it home from the point.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) January 24, 2018
Roughly two minutes later, Viktor Arvidsson scored a goal. At first it was waved off, but after further review it was ruled a good goal. The Lighting scored once more, sending the game tied at 2-2 into the first intermission.
P.K. Subban scored late in the second to give Nashville the lead, and it stayed that way until late in the third. Lighting’s Steven Stamkos, arguably one of the greatest goal scorers in the NHL, beat Saros and sent the game to overtime. Things didn’t take long to finish up, either. Tampa Bay scored a minute and a half in and escaped Nashville with two points.
At first, this may seem like a bad loss — make no mistake, it’s never good to blow a late lead — However, for starting abackup goalie and not having top goal-scorer Filip Forsberg, just getting a point against the NHL’s best doesn’t seem so bad. This was a very entertaining game and would make for quite the Stanley Cup Finals, should both teams make it that far.
Thursday (1/25) @ New Jersey Devils: 3-0 win
The New Jersey Devils were the opponent for Nashville on Thursday, as the Predators made their way to the Prudential Center. Pekka Rinne was back in net to help Nashville finish strong before the All-Star break. The Devils were shut out in their previous game before Thursday and were looking to change their fortunes around. It would be tough, though, as New Jersey was facing two major injuries; Devils’ leading scorer Taylor Hall was out, and they were forced to call up rookie goalie Ken Appleby for his first career start.
The first period saw a whole lot of nothing. Both teams had scoring chances, but for the most part it was a pretty mundane period of hockey. For a goalie that was making his first ever NHL start, Appleby was playing exceptionally well. He was stopping everything thrown his way, and the fans were ready to get behind the young goaltender — until midway through the second period, that was. P.K. Subban took a slap shot from the blue line that squeaked past Appleby to open the scoring. Any and all momentum New Jersey had was now all but gone.
The third period came and the Predators were able to score two more, one from Mattias Ekholm and the other from a shorthanded goal from Arvidsson.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) January 26, 2018
The Devils pressed all that they could, even out-shooting Nashville for the period, but it was all for not. Rinne shut out the Devils for his fourth shutout of the season, all of which have come on the road. He also exceeded his shutout total of three from last season.
Where They Stand
After another week of hockey, the Nashville Predators still find themselves in second place in the central division. The Winnipeg Jets are still in first place with 66 points, Nashville is in second with 65, and St. Louis is in third with 63.
Albeit, there is some good news. The Nashville Predators have games in hand on every team in the central division. This means that Nashville has scored more points with less games. Nashville still has three in hand on Winnipeg and four in hand on St. Louis. Nashville is in a prime position to overtake the division — it’s only a matter of time.
The middle of the pack in the division are the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche. Both teams lost their most recent game, but they both still occupy the two wildcard positions. Rounding out the bottom of the central are the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks. They might be in last two spots of the division, but these are still two really good teams. Minnesota has 57 points, the same as Colorado, but the Avalanche hold the tiebreaker. Chicago has 53 points and that puts them in last place. This might be a pleasing sight for many Predators’ fans, but they are still only four points away from a playoff spot. This just proves how strong this division is, and the standings are subject to change every week.
The NHL All-Star Game will take place this weekend in Tampa Bay, Florida. The skills competition was last night, and the All-Star game is at 3:30 p.m. EST today. The Preds will send P.K. Subban and Pekka Rinne to the big event. P.K. Subban even won the fan vote and will captain the central division.
After this weekend’s festivities, the Predators will be back to their regular schedule with a flurry of home games:
Tuesday (1/30) vs. Chicago Blackhawks 8:00 PM EST
Thursday (2/1) vs. Los Angeles Kings 8:30 PM EST
Saturday (2/3) vs. New York Rangers 8:00 PM EST
Three Stars of the Week
Third Star: Pekka Rinne
Pekka Rinne had about as good of a week as possible. He only started one game this week, stopping every shot he faced. There is not much more you can ask for. Now he will go on to Tampa Bay and represent his team in the All-Star Game, his sixth appearance in the event.
Second Star: Viktor Arvidsson
It seems that every time Nashville scored, Arvidsson’s was involved in some way. He finished the week with two goals and one assist, but he contributed way more than just what the score sheet shows. For example, he set many screens in front of the opposing goalies that led to goals. He was all over the ice and has really stepped his game up during the absence of Forsberg.
First Star: P.K. Subban
Nobody had a better week than P.K Subban. He played tremendously in both games this week, tallying two goals and one assist. On top of all that, he even had a guest appearance on the Daily Show. Subban is on pace for the best season of his career, and his play this week is just another reason why.