The NHL is set up with a lot of solid matchups on Thursday night. Seven games are on the board in total for January 17. One of the good games on the board is between the Winnipeg Jets and the Nashville Predators. These two teams are both near the top of the Western Conference, which should lead to a good matchup on Thursday night. Puck drop is set for 8:00 PM Eastern time. It will be on ESPN+ and the free game on NHL.com.
The Jets have been off to a fast start this season, putting up a record of 30-14-2. Winnipeg is currently sitting in first place of the Pacific Division. The Jets have won three games in a row and five of their last six. Winnipeg will look to keep their solid play and winning streak going with a tough road win against the Predators on Thursday night.
Nashville has started out this season with a record of 28-16-4, which has them in second place of the Pacific Division. The Predators won their last game against the Washington Capitals, but have lost two of their last three games. Nashville will look to build on their last win and start up another winning streak with a home win over Winnipeg.
Thursday night’s matchup will be the second game of the season series between the Jets and the Predators. Winnipeg and Nashville will meet two more times on March 1 and March 23. These two teams are competing for the top spot in the Pacific Division, which should lead to a great game on Thursday night.
The Jets and the Predators met up five times during the regular season last season. Both teams played a tight season series, but Nashville finished up with a 3-2 series win. The Predators went onto win the Presidents trophy at the end of the season with the NHL’s best record, while Winnipeg finished right behind them as the second best team in the NHL.
These two teams met up one more time in the second round of the playoffs in what was one of the best series in the entire playoffs. The series went back in fourth, with neither team having more than a one-game lead in the series, but Winnipeg was able to pull off a victory in game 7 to move on to the third round. The Jets then fell to the Golden Knights in the Conference Finals.
The first game of this season’s series was hosted by Nashville on October 11. Ryan Hartman scored the first goal of the game in the second period and added an assist on the second goal. Roman Josi and Ryan Johansen each had a goal in the third period to clinch the game for the Predators. Pekka Rinne had a 29 shot shutout to help Nashville get their revenge over their second-round playoff series loss. The Predators finished with a 3-0 win at home.
These two teams have played really tight games with each other this season and last season. In the 13 games that these teams have played against each other since the beginning of last season, the Predators own the series lead 7-6. I expect the Jets to come out looking to tie up Nashville in this season’s series.
Winnipeg has had one of the best power plays in the NHL this season. The Jets have been able to capitalize on 27.7 percent of their power play opportunities this season. Winnipeg’s penalty kill has been pretty solid this season as well, stopping teams around 81.2 percent of the time.
The Predators special teams have not been doing well this season and it has led to some inconsistency throughout the season. Nashville’s power play has been scoring about 14.2 percent of the time, which is near the bottom of the league. The Predators penalty kill has been doing slightly better, stopping opposing teams power plays 79.2 percent of the time.
The Jets have a clear edge on special teams in this matchup. Nashville’s special teams have struggled all season long and going up against Winnipeg’s strong power play could be really rough on Thursday night. The Predators stopped all three of the Jet’s power play chances in the first meeting, but that was much earlier in the season before Winnipeg really got rolling.
I believe that Connor Hellebuyck will start for the Jets on Thursday nights. Hellebuyck has put up a save percentage of .908 and a 2.87 GAA this season. In his starts this season, Hellebuyck has earned a record of 20-13-1. He will look to put up a solid performance to tie up the season series with the Predators.
Pekka Rinne will likely get the nod in net for Nashville. Rinne has a record of 17-11-3 in his starts this season. He has earned a .915 save percentage and a GAA of 2.43. Rinne has been off to another strong start this season and will look to earn another win for his team on Thursday night.
Both of these goalies were in competition for the Vezina Trophy last season and I expect both goalies to put up tough performances against each other. Rinne has put up better numbers this season, but Hellebuyck had a strong performance in the first game this season and I believe he will rise to the occasion again on Thursday night.
The Jets and the Predators have put up exciting matchups against each other recently. These two teams have both put up strong records early in the season and I believe it will be a game to watch on Thursday night. Winnipeg’s strong special teams could help give them an edge against the Predators on Thursday night. The Jets will look to bounce back from Nashville’s shut out early in the season.
BetOnline has the Predators listed as a -140 against the spread. This implies that Nashville will win this game around 58 percent of the time. I believe that all games between Winnipeg and Nashville should be close to even right now. This gives a lot of value to the Jets as underdogs. The Predators have struggled a bit recently and I believe the Jets take the second game of the season series.