Nashville Predators (7-2-2) at Winnipeg Jets (6-5-1)
|Date & Time||Tuesday November 4, 2014, 8:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Winnipeg Jets -118 / Nashville Predators +107 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
Aside from the Nashville Predators getting off to a fast start under new coach Peter Laviolette the most encouraging thing for the organization has to be the play of Pekka Rinne. After dealing with injuries there were questions surrounding Rinne and whether or not he would be able to regain his form as one of the elite goaltenders in the league. Ten games into the season and Rinne looks to have already answered those questions. His seven wins are good for second in the league and he’s top ten in virtually every goaltending category. Rinne is posting a 1.88 goals against average and a .931 save percentage and he showed off again Sunday night in Vancouver against the Canucks. The Canucks managed to slip one by Rinne midway through the first period to take a 1-0 lead but it was the only time they would light the lamp on the night. Filip Forsbergs’ power play goal tied the game early in the second and in the third period it was Forsberg who gave the Predators the lead before Colin Wilson finished the scoring in the 3-1 win. Yes, the Predators have still struggled against some of the top teams, with two of their three losses coming to the Penguins and the Blackhawks, but there’s a different personality with this club this year and you’d expect that with a coach like Laviolette behind the bench. Tuesday night marks the fourth game of a six game road trip. Nashville has started off with wins in two of their first three. The Central Division looks like it’s going to be loaded this year if the Predators can keep up their good play. Between Nashville, Minnesota, St. Louis, Chicago, Dallas, and Colorado, playoff spots are going to be hard to come by. Nashville’s opponent on Tuesday also looks to be improved this year but it’s going to be extremely tough for the Winnipeg Jets with all the firepower in this division.
Winnipeg comes into the contest winners of four of their last five games and off consecutive 1-0 road shutouts. Saturday night in New York against the Rangers wasn’t the prettiest victory for the Jets but they’ll take the two points when they can get them. New York lost two of their top four defenseman early in the game and yet still controlled play all night long, out shooting the Jets 38-25 on the night. Ondrej Pavelec was fantastic in this one and single handedly stole the game for Winnipeg. Pavelec stopped all 38 shots he faced in regulation and overtime and after allowing Mats Zuccarello to score to open the shootout made three consecutive saves to allow the Jets to come back and win. Sunday night it was a better effort from the Jets but again it was a goaltender who stole the show. Michael Hutchinson started the second game of the back-to-back set and in his sixth career National Hockey League start he recorded his first shutout. The only offense in this game happened quick, so anyone who was a minute late to get to their seats missed all the offense on the night. Michael Frolik scored the only goal of the game just 20 seconds into the game and Hutchinson did the rest from there. The twenty-four year old stopped all 33 shots he faced to lead the Jets to victory. The 1.75 goals per game average obviously isn’t going to cut it for this club but right now their goaltending is keeping them in games. Paul Maurice’s club isn’t going to wow anyone but Maurice always has them working hard. The Jets will need to bring that effort once again on Tuesday night if they’re going to solve Rinne and the Predators.
These two teams are pretty evenly matched but the awful goal scoring is going to catch up with the Jets eventually. If you’re struggling to score goals right now facing Pekka Rinne probably isn’t what you want to see and the Predators are playing well and getting favorable odds on the road.