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Preview: Bruins head to Music City to visit the Predators

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Sure would be nice to see one of those 60-minute efforts...

Nashville Predators Vs Boston Bruins At TD Garden Photo by Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Just the facts

When: Tonight, 8 PM

Where: Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, TN

How to follow: 98.5 The Sports Hub, NESN

Rival SBN site: On the Forecheck

Know your enemy

  • Standings: 19-15-7, 45 points, 6th in the Central Division
  • Goals: Roman Josi & Filip Forsberg, 14
  • Assists: Josi, 30
  • Points: Josi, 44
  • Goalie: Pekka Rinne, 14-8-3, .896 save percentage, 2.98 GAA

Game notes

  • So I wrote this entire preview Monday night, went about my business, and then went on Twitter to see that the Predators fired Peter Laviolette. Assistant coach Kevin McCarthy was fired as well. As of tonight, no one really knows who is coaching against the Bruins tomorrow, so...interesting.
  • Laviolette had been in Nashville since 2014. His record during that tenure was 248-143-60, which is pretty good. He’ll probably only be unemployed as long as he wants to be.
  • This is one of those weird NHL scheduling quirks: the Bruins and Predators play in different conferences, but are playing each other twice in a little over two weeks. Might as well jam them all in, I guess!
  • Also, the Bruins are playing in Nashville right after the Titans beat the Patriots. Expect mockery. Also Tom Brady is coming back.
  • In the last meeting between these two teams, you’ll remember that the Bruins had a second period lead, then were trailing in the third before tying it and losing in OT. Jaroslav Halak had himself many adventures in that game, and while the Bruins aren’t playing great right now, I don’t think the Predators should expect a couple of gift-wrapped goals again tonight.
  • When looking at the numbers for this preview, I was surprised just how bad Nashville is in terms of the standings. While they’re certainly not out of it, it was weird to see them fifth-worst in the West.
  • Why? Well, it’s essentially the Roman Josi Show in Nashville. The defenseman leads the team in assists, points, and is tied for the team lead in goals. His 44 points are 16 more than the 2nd-place skater. Yikes!
  • Having said that, I could see Nashville having a St. Louis-esque surge down the stretch. There’s a lot of offensive talent on this team, and if they can find a reliable body to plug the hole on the blue line, they could go on a tear.
  • Not helping things: the Predators haven’t exactly gotten solid goaltending all year. Rinne and Juuse Saros have just about evenly split the workload thus far. Both have GAA’s around or over 3, and save percentages in the 89s.
  • Defense has proven to be their Achilles heel, as the Predators rank a respectable 6th in the league in goals-for per game (3.44). However, they’re allowing 3.27, the 8th-worst mark.
  • They’ll be without one of their better defensemen for a bit too, as Ryan Ellis is out after taking a dirty elbow from (surprise!) Corey Perry in the Winter Classic.
  • For the Bruins, Joakim Nordstrom isn’t traveling to Nashville due to illness. Connor Clifton still isn’t skating. I’d expect Tuukka Rask to start tonight.
  • This is the Bruins’ annual Moms Trip, with players bringing their mothers along for some road hockey. Here’s to hoping the watchful eyes of the moms help the team play a full game for once.
  • Parting thought: Nashville is a cool city, and a great place to visit. It’s probably overly touristy in the area around the arena, but to have so many bars and stuff a block or two from the arena makes for a great atmosphere. Hot chicken is great too.

See ya tonight!