Nashville Predators vs. Ottawa Senators - 10/9/14
Ottawa Senators (37-31-14) at Nashville Predators (38-32-12)
NHL Hockey: Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm (Bridgestone Arena)
The Line: Nashville Predators -130 / Ottawa Senators +118 --- Over/Under: 5.5 See the Latest Odds
One of the biggest questions facing the Ottawa Senators this offseason was whether or not they were going to be able to sign Bobby Ryan to a new long term contract and whether they even should. Ottawa was able to lock up Ryan to a seven year extension and after naming Erik Karlsson their new captain it's clear who the faces of this franchise are. A year removed from a playoff berth that saw things trending upward in the Canadian capitl the Senators took a step back last year. Ottawa will attempt to get off to a better start than last season when they had a four game and five game losing streak in the month of October. It set the tone for a team that just could not get anything going much of the year. Young players like Mika Zibanejad and Alex Chiasson are going to need to be big time contributors this season if the Senators are going to be back in the post season. The top six has potential and is loaded with talent, but consistency is the biggest concern here. Defensively the club needs to find a way to limit opportunities from the opposition. Ottawa enjoys playing a run and gun type of style but last year that left them vulnerable to odd man rushes and their defense corps isn't good enough to spend too much time in their own end. The Senators spit two games with the Predators last season with both games needing extra. It will be a good test right out of the gates for Craig Anderson who is back in goal with Robin Lehner backing up. This team seems to go as Karlsson goes but he can be a point per game player on the back end and it won't matter if the Senators can't keep the puck out of their own net. Karlsson can take a big step forward this season if he can start becoming a shut down day that exploits teams offensively when given the chance. There needs to be a team commitment defensively or Ottawa is going to end up where they were last season on the outside looking in . Look for the Senators to try and exploit the Predators with their speed but they'll be facing a club that knows a little something about playing defense.
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The Nashville Predators and their fans will be embarking an a whole new era. All this franchise has ever known is Barry Trotz behind the bench leading a lackluster roster to competitive hockey with some great defensive play. Now Peter Laviolette gets a crack to try and mold this roster in the complete opposite direction. Laviolette is an offensive coach and he has done a great job creating uptempo hockey that produces a lot of goals with the teams he has previously managed. Laviolette will be trying to get this club into the top half of the league offensively this season, up from 19th last year. Their biggest acqusition was James Neal but it remains to be seen how he will do now that he's out of Pittsburgh and losing some dynamic linemates. Derek Roy, Ollie Jokinen, and Mike Ribeiro also hope to add some offense but this club will continue to be led by Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne. The Finnish goaltender comes into the season fully healthy and this could be a huge season for him if he can play 60 or more games. Nashville is going to need some time to get this new system figured out, but in the tough Western Conference you don't want to fall behind by too many points early in the season. This club always seems to be in contention but the real question is has general manager David Poile done enough to get this team back to the playoffs.
Both of these clubs are in competitive divisions and don't have much margin for error. The Predators should be better over the long haul with Laviolette but that might take some time to show itself. To start the season they're both relatively equal so I'll take the road team with the better offense that's getting plus money.