Washington Capitals (24-11-8) at Nashville Predators (29-9-4)
|Date & Time||Friday January 16, 2015, 8:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Nashville Predators / Washington Capitals --- Over/Under:
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
It appears that the hiring of Barry Trotz behind the Washington Capitals bench was exactly what this hockey club needed heading into this season. After years of having a failed defensive concept fail them come playoff time, and then a focus solely on the defensive end under Dale Hunter, the Capitals have found a balance under Trotz that they haven't had in years. Washington ranks in the top 10 in the National Hockey League in both goals per game and goals against per game. Add in a lethal power play that ranks fourth overall and some outstanding goaltending from Braden Holtby and it’s easy to understand why the Capitals are sitting in a playoff position and looking to make a run at the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. This is as consistent as we’ve seen the Capitals in a long time and despite everything that they’re doing right it all starts in net with Holtby. Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers Holtby stopped all 21 shots he faced to record his fourth shutout of the season in Washington’s 1-0 win. Holtby’s 38 games played at 2nd in the league and and his .924 save percentage and 2.17 goals against average are both in the top 10. Jason Chimera scored the only goal of the game early in the first period for a Capitals club that has won three in a row and six of their last seven heading into Friday night’s contest with the Nashville Predators.
Nashville would like nothing more than to make this a miserable trip back to the Music City for their former head coach. Trotz had been all that Nashville knew about hockey but much like the Capitals have been invigorated by his entrance, the Predators have excelled in his absence. Peter Laviolette has the Predators first in the Central Division standings at 29-9-4 on the season. Pekka Rinne is arguably the leading candidate to win the Vezina Trophy at this point in the season and unlike in years past the Predators aren’t having issues scoring goals. In fact, Nashville is seventh in the league in goals per game at exactly 3.00 on the season. Unfortunately Rinne sprained his knee and will miss the next 3-5 weeks according to the team. The Predators have won four straight games heading into this contest and they’re coming off a drubbing of the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night. Craig Smith’s power play goal opened the scoring and Colin Wilson gave Nashville a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Vancouver would get within a goal but in the third period the Predators put the game away. Filip Forsberg, Mike Fisher, and Wilson each added goals to lead Nashville to a 5-1 victory. Rinne made 20 saves on the night to record his 29th victory of the season before leaving with the injury. Carter Hutton will now be counted on to fill in.
This game was going to be a lot of fun before news of the Rinne injury broke. It should still be good but the Capitals should have the edge with Holtby in goal. Nashville is going to want this one badly however and if Hutton can just be respectable they should be able to find a way on home ice.