Nashville Predators (31-11-6) at Pittsburgh Penguins (28-13-8)
|Date & Time||Sunday February 1, 2015, 2:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Pittsburgh Penguins -160 / Nashville Predators +144 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
The Predators look to hang on to their Central division lead with a victory in Pittsburgh on Sunday while the Pens look to retake top spot in the Metro.
The Nashville Predators have been one of the league's biggest surprises this season as they have gone from missing the playoffs to challenging for the Central division crown but their Cup aspirations took a serious blow when Pekka Rinne went down with an injury. It is uncertain when the Vezina candidate will be back between the pipes and when he does he will certainly give the team a much needed boost but in the meantime they are in tough rotating between Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec and while their defense will keep them in games they will need a special effort against some of the league's better teams which is where they find themselves in this one. Nashville does has former Pens forward James Neal on the roster and he has been a huge boost in his first season in the Music City and while he may receive a cold reception he will likely be fired up to perform against his old club. Hutton is expected to get the nod as he will go up against Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Penguins can reclaim the top spot in the Metro division with a victory over Nashville on Sunday as they and the Islanders have been jockeying most of the season and with a victory the Pens would claim their 18th home ice win of the season. Pittsburgh is a solid group that has been a mainstay of playoff hockey since Sidney Crosby came into the league but they have a bit of a different vibe this season as some key pieces including Neal left via free agency last summer and the blue line took the biggest hit as both Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen signed in Washington. Still, the Pens have a potent attack and have enjoyed a resurgence from Marc-Andre Fleury this season and if the pieces fall into place the Pens should very well be a threat to win the Eastern Conference once again. While I was on the Preds early and often to start the season I have been fading them hard since Rinne went down and I wont stop here as I think the Pens will be way too much here and could blow things wide open.