Well Nashville, here we are. Last game in 2015 for the boys in Gold as we face-off against the "Big D" in a New Years Eve matchup. Personally I've been looking forward to this game for quite some time, not quite as much as the Blackhawks games, but it's up their on my list. Especially now that Dallas has really turned heads in the hockey community this year. Dallas currently stands at 2nd in the NHL, one point behind the Caps and 1st in the Central with 57 points to the season. Nashville is 13th in the NHL and sits in the 2nd Wild Card slot for the Central.
Everybody keeps talking about how Dallas will eventually come down from the mountain they are sitting high up on but frankly I'm not sure if I see that happening. They have arguably the best 1st offensive line in the NHL and their defense and goaltending seems to be filling in all the missing pieces they were lacking last season. Jamie Benn leads the league in goals (23 goals) and Tyler Seguin (21 goals) is 4th in the league for goals and that's just their first line. Dallas is 3rd in the league in Power Play production which could be a game changer if our boys aren't careful.
Nashville will heavily rely on it's defense but will also need the forwards to step up into more defensive roles as well. During the last game against the Blues, we seemed to have a lack of communication and looked like our players kept running into each other. We need to focus on puck control especially with passes making sure we prevent as many turnovers as possible and not give Dallas' first line the puck. Also when we enter the Dallas zone we need to be patient with the puck and not just dump it in and pray. The game against the Canadiens was a perfect example. Entering the zone, we held on to the puck and waited for an opportunity to pass. As a result we were able to snap as many shots as possible onto the net and keep the other team from breaking out. If Nashville goes on the Penalty Kill, we will need to focus on the man and not the puck we are defending. Don't commit to the hit and stay with your man. The skater controls the puck, so if Dallas dumps it in, don't go for the puck right away. Stay with the opposing skater and prevent him from retrieving the puck.
Nashville is more than capable to show Dallas they aren't the only big dogs in the Central. We've proven time and time again that it doesn't matter how skilled the opposing skaters are, we can dominate when we are clicking on all cylinders. We'd all love to bring in the New Year with two points added to our name and a BIG Smashville win against another Powerful Western Conference team.
I don't want to brag and boast about our amazing Predators hockey team but tonight I am predicting either a 4-2 Win or a 4-3 Win against Dallas. If Dallas isn't coming down from that mountain, then lets just join them up there.
Side note: We will be recording Episode 6 of the Preds News Podcast Saturday and will be released on Sunday. We have some fun topics to talk about as well as game recaps for the past week and a half. If you haven't already, please subscribe to the Podcast and tell us what you think! Also please send us your questions via email or tweets (@nshpredsnews) and we will answer them on the Podcast. Below I will have the iTunes link and the TuneIn link for the Podcast as well as a form to send us your emails.
For all of you playing our Pick 6 competition, we will release this weeks upcoming match-ups so keep an eye out for those to win a pair of Preds tickets to the last home game to the person with the most Pick 6 points at the end of the season. Happy New Year's and GO PREDS!