Preview #42: Predators start away-and-home series against Colorado Tuesday night
Nashville Predators 22-15-4
Colorado Avalanche 23-19-1
The Nashville Predators hit the road for a Tuesday night tilt against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche are winners of 9 of their last 11 games but are coming off of a 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues. Both of Colorado’s recent losses have come on the second game of back-to-back contests. The Predators are also hot winning four of their last five games.
The two teams meet again Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena and with only one point separating the two clubs in the Western Conference standings, Nashville needs to find a way to continue to win.
Nashville’s power play is coming off of a successful night going four for five with the man advantage against Carolina on Saturday night. The Predators power play is back up to second best in the League with a 22 percent success rate, behind only Vancouver. The Canucks are successful on the man advantage 24.4 percent of the time.
Colorado is ranked 14th with the man advantage at 18.5 percent success rate, but struggle at home having scoring only 9 power play goals this season, connecting only 12.3 percent of the time.
Nashville’s penalty kill successfully kills off penalties 81.8 percent of the time, good for 19th in the League, but are better on the road than at home with a 86.4 percent success rate. Colorado’s penalty kill is slightly less effective than Nashville’s ranked 21st in the NHL. The Avs kill off their penalties 81.4 percent of the time, but are better at the Pepsi Center with a 85.5 percent kill off rate.
The Avalanche have two solid netminders in Semyon Varlamov and J.S. Giguere. Varlamov has only one career start against the Predators, a win when he played with the Capitals. Varlamov has a 1.85 goals against average versus Nashville with a .917 save percentage.
In 28 games this season, Varlamov has a 14-13-1 record with a 2.85 goals against average and a .903 save percentage.
Giguere has played 25 games against the Predators, mostly with his time in Anaheim, though he played in Calgary prior to his tenure with the Ducks and Toronto after it. Giguere has an impressive 16-7-2 record, with a 2.02 goals against average and a .924 save percentage against the Predators.
Mike Chambers from The Denver Post reports Varlamov is expected to get the start on Tuesday.
Predators netminder Pekka Rinne has a 7-3-0 record against Colorado with a 2.50 goals against average and a .901 save percentage.
Keep an eye on Captain Shea Weber. Weber’s goal on Saturday night gave him 22 points in his last 22 games, including 8 goals and 14 assists. The Predators are 6-1-1 when Weber scores a goal.
While the Predators are currently fielding a healthy roster, the Avalanche are missing a couple key players. Matt Duchene is out of the lineup with a left knee injury and is expected to be out of the lineup until at least the end of the month.
The Denver Post also reports that defensemen Erik Johnson and former Predator Shane O’Brien missed practice on Monday with O’Brien being out of the lineup for the away-and-home series against the Predators this week. Both defensemen left the game Saturday against St. Louis. Johnson is day-to-day with a hand injury while Avalanche coach Joe Sacco says O’Brien is out this week with a knee injury.
After Tuesday night’s game in Denver, the Predators return home to host the Avalanche on Thursday night. Tuesday and Thursday’s games will be the first and second of four meetings between the two clubs this year.
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