The NHL is set up with another solid night of action throughout February 4. Eight games are up on the board throughout Thusday night. One of these games will be between the Nashville Predators and the Florida Panthers. These two teams have had solid starts to the season and will look for a big win in this one. This game will drop the puck at around 7:00 PM Eastern time.
The Predators have opened up this season with a record of 4-5, which has them sitting in seventh place of the Central Division. Nashville is coming off back to back losses and have lost five of their last seven. The Predators will look to get back to .500 though with a big win in this one. I expect Nashville to come out hot in this one as they look for a big win.
Florida has put up a record of 5-0-1 throughout the early part of this season, which has them in second place of the Central Division. The Panthers are tied in points with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Dallas Stars, but have games in hand. Florida has won two straight and will look to keep it going with a win in this one.
These two teams are sitting on opposite sides of the Division standings, but will both look for the win in this one. The Central Division standings are still a tight race, which gives plenty of time for teams to turn it around. If either team can come out hot in this one it could give them a big edge. I expect an exciting tilt between Nashville and Florida on Thursday night.
The Predators and the Panthers met up twice throughout last season. Nashville hosted the first game on October 19. Roman Josi and Kyle Turris scored for the Predators, while Ryan Ellis had two assists. Denis Malgin and Brett Connolly scored for Florida as it went to a shootout. Vincent Trocheck had a goal in the shootout and Sam Montembeault had 25 saves on 27 shots as the Panthers won 3-2.
The second game shifted to Florida on November 30. Anton Stralman scored twice to help the Panthers jump out to a 2-0 lead. Aleksander Barkov scored another goal in the third period to help ice this game. Chris Driedger finished with 27 saves on 27 shots to help stump Nashville’s offense. Florida was able to earn a 3-0 win to sweep the two game series with the Predators.
Florida was able to sweep the season series against Nashville last season. The Panthers needed a shootout to earn one of those wins, but shut out the Predators in the other matchup. Florida has won four of their last five games against Nashville. The Predators will look to turn that around as they meet up with the Panthers in this one.
Nashville’s special teams have not been good at all throughout the early part of this season. The Predators have been able to capitalize on 4 of their 36 power play chances, which is an 11.1 percent success rate. Nashville has given up 13 goals on 37 penalties against, which is a 64.9 percent penalty kill. The Predators need to improve on both sides if they want to move up the standings.
The Panthers have been strong on both sides of special teams so far this season. Florida has been able to score on 7 of their 19 power play attempts, which is a 36.8 percent power play. The Panthers have also killed off 17 of their opponents 21 power play opportunities, which is an 81 percent kill rate. Florida will look to keep up the special teams dominance against the Predators in this one.
These two teams have had very opposite starts to the season on special teams, with Florida having a clear edge in this one. Nashville will need to switch things up in this one if they to turn it around on Thursday night. If the Panthers can dominate on the power play in this one, it could help Florida take over. The Predators will need to step up though if they want to keep up on Thursday night.
Juuse Saros will likely get the nod in the crease for the Predators in this matchup. Saros has started in six games this season, earning a record of 3-3. He has posted a save percentage of .908 and a 2.82 GAA through those starts. Saros stopped 23 of 27 shots against the Tampa Bay Lightning in his last start, which was not enough for the win.
I expect Sergei Bobrovsky to get the start in the net for Florida on Thursday night. Bobrovsky has been able to put up a record of 3-0-0 through his starts this season. He has earned a .894 save percentage and a GAA of 2.87. Bobrovsky’s last start was against the Detroit Red Wings, where he finished with 25 saves on 27 shots in the win.
Saros has put up the better numbers to this point in the season and will look to step up as he meets up with the Panthers for the first time this season. Bobrovsky has struggled with consistency since joining Florida last season. He will look to improve upon his numbers in this one as he looks to capture another win. If either goalie can get into a groove early, it could help their team earn the win.
The Panthers have come out strong this season with something to prove. I think that Nashville has a great chance to bounce back with a win in this one though. The Predators need to find a way to get special teams going, but if they can at least stay out of the box, it should give them a chance. Nashville will look to control the pace early in this matchup to pull off the road upset.
BetOnline has Florida listed as a -113 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Panthers will win this game around 53.1 percent of the time. Florida not lost in regulation yet this season, which will eventually change. I think that the Predators have a chance to take this one over. As underdogs, I really like the value on Nashville on Thursday night.