The NHL is set up with another great night of hockey throughout Saturday. Twelve games are up on the board throughout March 6. One of these matchups will be between the Florida Panthers and the Nashville Predators. These two teams have had opposite starts to the season, but will look for a big win in this one. This game will drop the puck at around 2:00 PM Eastern time on NHL Network.
The Panthers have earned a record of 14-4-4 throughout this season, which has them sitting in third place of the Central Division. Florida is coming off a win in their last game, which ended a two game losing streak. The Panthers will look to build upon that as they enter this one. I expect Florida to come out strong as they try to keep their spot in the Central playoff race.
Nashville has opened up this season with a record of 10-13, which has them in sixth place of the Central Division. The Predators have lost back to back games entering this one. Nashville will look to get back on track with a victory in this one. The Predators almost came back in their last game and will look to build upon that third period performance.
These two teams have been solid throughout this season, but it is Florida who is sitting in the playoff spot right now. The Panthers have been pretty hot to start out the new campaign. The Predators have been up and down so far this season. Nashville will look to kick it into gear with a win in this one against a tough Panthers team.
The Panthers and the Predators have met up three times so far this season. The first game was in Florida on February 4. Jonathan Huberdeau had three goals and two assists as the Panthers jumped out to a 5-3 lead. Filip Forsberg had two goals and three assists, while Matt Duchene scored twice to fuel the comeback. Nashville was able to grab a 6-5 win in overtime in this one.
The second game of the season series stayed in Florida on February 5. Colton Sissons opened up the scoring for the Predators, but this time it was not enough. Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaege each had a goal and an assist on the night. Chris Driedger stopped 24 of the 25 shots he faced to help lead the Panthers to a 2-1 win at home.
The third and most recent game of the series was in Nashville on March 4. Victor Arvidsson had three assists, while Filip Forsberg had a goal and two assists. It was not enough for the Predators to grab the win though. Aaron Ekblad had two goals and two assists. Aleksander Barkov had three assists and Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and an assist. The Panthers were able to hold on for a 5-4 win.
Florida was able to win the second and third game of the season series. The Panthers could have wins in all three games, but they gave up a lead with less than four minutes left against the Predators in the first game. Nashville needs to get out to a better start in this one after allowing Florida to take a 3-0 lead on Thursday night. If the Predators can come out quicker, it could give them the win.
The Panthers power play has been strong to this point in the season. Florida has capitalized on 17 of their 64 power play attempts, which is a 26.6 percent success rate. The Panthers have struggled a bit on the penalty kill though. Florida has killed off 49 of the 63 penalties against them, which is a 77.8 percent penalty kill.
Nashville has struggled on both sides of special teams throughout this season so far. The Predators have scored on 14 of their 77 power play chances, which is an 18.2 percent power play. Nashville has given up 23 goals on their opponents 77 power play opportunities, which is a 70.1 percent kill rate. The Predators need to pick up their play on special teams if they want to get back to .500.
Florida has been the better team on special teams throughout this season. The Panthers have the better power play and penalty kill entering this one. Nashville will need to find a spark with the man advantage if they want to take the edge in this one. I expect both teams to try and set up on the power play early as they look for the win.
I expect Sergei Bobrovsky to get the start in the crease for the Panthers in this one. Bobrovsky has started in 11 games this season, going 7-2-2- in those starts. He has put up a .897 save percentage and a GAA of 3.11 in his starts. Bobrovsky finished with 31 saves on 35 shots in the win against Nashville on Thursday night.
Pekka Rinne will likely get the nod between the pipes for the Predators on Saturday afternoon. Rinne has earned a record of 5-8 throughout his games this season. He has posted a save percentage of .908 and a 2.68 GAA in his games played. Rinne struggled on Thursday night stopping 33 of the 38 shots he faced in the losing effort.
Both of these goalies are coming off rough performances on Thursday night. Rinne has been slightly better this season, but Bobrovsky has had the better record. The Predators will look to put pressure on Bobrovsky early as they look to score a couple early. If either goalie can have a strong start, it could give their team the edge in this.
The Panthers have been the better team throughout this season, but Nashville will look to bounce back against them with a win at home. The Predators have been able to keep it close this season with Florida and will look to get a statement win in this one. I think if Nashville can get something going on special teams, they can earn a win in this one.
BetOnline has the Panthers listed as a -141 against the money line in this one. This implies that Florida will win this game around 58.5 percent of the time. The Panthers are the better team in this one, but this seems a bit high for a road team. I think that the Predators can come out quicker in this meeting and pull off the upset at home.