Tonight the Buffalo Sabres Play host to a not so familiar team.
The 12th place in the Western Conference Nashville Predators pounce into town tonight, for the first of two meetings this season against Buffalo; the other game coming on March 27th.
The last time these two teams met was back in 2011, when the Sabres traveled down to Bridgestone Arena and took a 3-2 victory from Nashville. The last time that Nashville was visiting Buffalo was March 20, 2011, when former Predator Blake Geoffrion scored a hat trick in regulation, including a pair only 1:02 apart, to force an overtime. Nashville would only take 27 seconds to complete the comeback and win 4-3.
Tonight’s Opponent: The Nashville Predators
Record: 27-28-10, 64 pts.
Standings: Twelfth in the Western Conference
Current Streak: Won one
The Predators have had a less than ideal season, with Pekka Rinne going down early in October, Nashville has been treading water around .500, but still remain in the hunt for a wild card spot. With Rinne reactivated and back in the lineup, Nashville can now refocus on scoring more, rather than more goalie support.
Former Ottawa Senator Mike Fisher leads all Nashville players with 32 points (8g, 24a) against the Sabres, due to his tenure with Ottawa. Fisher has been outstanding for the Preds lately, leading ice time of forwards with 19:24. Over the last 11 games, Fisher has 3 goals and 4 assists, also leading forwards with 58 blocked shots and 114 hits, putting him at second in hits. Fisher ranks at fourth on Nashville in scoring with 34 points this season. Speaking of former players, Paul Gaustad will be back in town tonight, making this his first game against his former team since being dealt in 2012.
Defenseman Shea Weber has been one of the leagues top defensemen this season notching 27 points (8g, 19a) in a stretch of 34 games from December 12, 2013 to now. Hitting the 40 point mark for the fifth straight year, also leading in power play goals with 9 and also leading his team in scoring makes for an elite defenseman going into tonight’s game. Not to forget that he has one of the deadliest slap-shots in the league.
The fourth overall pick in this past draft has Seth Jones starting to pick up even more in his rookie season, Jones posted his third career multiple-point game (1g-1a), including the second game-winning goal of his career 3:49 into overtime against the Ottawa Senators last night. Jones is tied for fourth in the league with 23 points (6g-17a) amongst all rookie defensemen, and is good for a tie for 15th place among all rookies. Jones also sits in the top 10 for rookie skaters with 88 blocked shots, 8 power-play points, 2 game-winning goals and 2 power-play goals. Craig Smith leads all forwards with 38 points (19 g, 19 a), sporting eight points (3 g, 5 a) in his last 12 outings.
With one team on the rise and one looking to rise to a playoff contender, which will come out on top? How do you think tonights game will pan out?