Teams are rounding the turn in the NHL regular season, and the Nashville Predators are scrambling for playoff position after losing their first four games in March. They’ll need an inspired performance this Thursday night (7 PM ET) when they visit the best team in the league, the Washington Capitals.
The Predators have taken a step back in their third season under head coach Peter Laviolette. Their puck possession stats are decent, but Pekka Rinne (.915 save percentage) has been fair-to-middling between the pipes, making the OVER a solid pick in the Music City this year. Nashville did make a nice move at the trade deadline by acquiring winger PA Parenteau (13 goals, 14 assists) from the New Jersey Devils, sending back a sixth-round draft pick in return.
That’s a drop in the bucket compared to Washington’s mega-deal for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (11 goals, 35 assists). But Shattenkirk earned a two-game suspension over the weekend for a charging penalty; Thursday should be his first game back. Winger Andre Burakovsky (11 goals, 18 assists) remains out while he recovers from a hand injury. He isn’t due to return until late March.