The NHL is set for one of its best traditions as we bring in the New Year. The Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars will meet in the twelfth annual Winter Classic. These two teams are in a very competitive Central Division and will look to earn a nice win on Wednesday afternoon. This game will drop the puck at around 2:00 PM Eastern time on NBC.
Nashville has started off the season with a record of 18-14-6, which has them in sixth place of the Central Division. The Predators are one point behind the Minnesota Wild and five points behind the Winnipeg Jets. Nashville is four points out of a wild card spot. The Predators will look to take a step closer to a playoff spot with a win over Dallas in the Cotton Bowl.
The Stars has earned a record of 22-14-4 to this point in the season. Dallas is currently sitting in third place of the Central Division. The Stars have a one point on the Winnipeg Jets and are sitting two points behind the Colorado Avalanche. Dallas is looking to catch the St. Louis Blues, who are in first place of the Central with 58 points. The Stars will look to keep their winning streak going with a win on Wednesday.
The Predators are coming into this game on a short two game losing streak, while Dallas has won back to back games coming into this one. These two teams are still competing in the Central Division and could use a big win in this one. These two teams will meet two more times after this one, so expect them to come out quickly.
The Predators and the Stars met up five times throughout the regular season last season. Nashville won the first game of the season series in Dallas. The Stars were able to take the third and the fourth game of the season series on the road. The Predators bounced back with games in the final two games of the season series to win the series 3-2.
Nashville and Dallas met up again in the first round of the playoffs. The Stars were able to jump out to a nice 3-2 win to take game 1, but the Predators bounced back with wins in games 3 and 4. Dallas outscored Nashville 10-4 in the next two games to take a 3-2 series lead. John Klingberg scored in overtime in game 6 to send the Stars to the second round.
These two teams already met up once this season in Nashville on December 14. Austin Watson scored the first goal to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. Alexander Radulov had two assists, while the Stars had four different goal scorers to help lead them to a 4-1 win. Anton Khudobin stopped 37 of the 38 shots against him to help give Dallas the win on the road.
The Predators have not gotten their special teams going yet this season, which has been a big reason why they are sitting outside of the playoff picture. Nashville’s power play has only scored 21 power play goals on 132 opportunities, which is a 15.9 percent. The Predators penalty kill has allowed opposing teams to score 29 goals on 119 chances for a 75.6 percent kill rate.
Dallas has not done well on the power play either this season. The Stars have capitalized on 19 of their 115 power play chances, which is a 16.5 percent success rate. Dallas has done much better on the penalty kill though. The Stars have held their opponents to 23 power play goals on 137 opportunities, which is a 83.2 percent penalty kill.
Neither of these two teams have posted a great power play to this point in the season. Nashville’s power play has been slightly worse, and they will have more difficulty getting going as they go up against the Stars strong penalty kill. Dallas will have a chance to get the power play going against the Predators, but I do not expect special teams to play a huge role in this matchup.
Pekka Rinne will likely get the nod in net for the Predators in this matchup. Rinne has posted a record of 13-7-3 through his games this season. He has earned a save percentage of .894 and a 3.02 throughout those games. Rinne’s last start came against the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced in relief of Juuse Saros in a losing effort.
I expect Ben Bishop to get the start in the crease for Dallas on Wednesday afternoon. Bishop has put up a record of 13-9-3 through his games this season. He has posted a .926 save percentage and a GAA of 2.34 throughout this season. Bishop last played against the Colorado Avalanche. Bishop stopped 41 of the 43 shots against him to help the Stars earn a nice win.
Dallas has the edge in this matchup with Bishop in the net. Bishop has posted much better numbers throughout this season, but Rinne still has the ability to steal a game here and there. The Predators will look to give Rinne some help to try and have a strong defensive performance. If Rinne can step up in this game, it could give a good chance to Nashville to pull off the upset.
The Stars were able to knock Nashville out of the playoffs last season and take the first game of this season’s series. I expect the Predators to come out quick in this one as they try and get some revenge by beating Dallas in the Winter Classic. Nashville might be able to shut down the Stars special teams, and I think the Predators could beat Dallas in five on five play.
BetOnline has the Stars listed as a -115 against the money line in this one. This implies that Dallas will win this game around 53.5 percent of the time. I think that this money line is right, but I like the Predators in this one. I believe that Nashville will bounce back with a big win to tie up the season series. The Predators are on a small losing streak coming into this game, but I expect them to bounce back in this one.