The Nashville Predators will host the high-powered Washington Capitals on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville hasn't had much success against the Capitals as of late, losing each of the last four meetings in either the overtime period or the shootout.
Washington is currently sitting in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference with a 10-4-1 record, and are coming off of a shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils. When the Capitals are mentioned, Alexander Ovechkin is usually the first thing that comes to mind. So far this year, however, Nicklas Backstrom has been the offensive leader for the Caps. Backstrom has 20 points on the year so far, which is six more than Ovechkin's 14 points.
Nevertheless, the Capitals have arguably the most offensive firepower of any team in the NHL. Throughout the past few seasons, the problem with the Capitals has been their defense and their goaltending.
Washington seems to have solved the goaltending issue by bringing in former Predator netminder Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun, along with Joel Ward, will be making a return trip to Nashville to face his former team. Vokoun boasts an 8-2-1 record with a save percentage of .921.
Nashville has been on a good run as of late, and have collected 12 out of 16 points in their last eight games. The Predators are coming off of a 2-1 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, and are looking to kick off the rest of the four game homestand with a win.
The Predators have been led by rookie Craig Smith, who has 10 points in his last 10 gaems. Smith leads all rookies in points with 14, and is tied for the team lead in points with David Legwand.
Both teams possess a good amount of speed, so tonight's game figures to be full of high-paced action. The key for the Predators is to catch Washington in transition and capitalize on odd-man rushes. If they're able to do that, Nashville will have a good chance against the mighty Capitals.
My player to watch for the Capitals is Joel Ward. He is facing his former team so he'll want to have a productive night against a lot of his former teammates. Ward plays the same game in Washington that he did in Nashville. He's a hard worker and has the capability of providing offense now and again.
For Nashville, my player to watch is Pekka Rinne. Washington has a lot of firepower. Rinne will have to be on his A-game to keep the Predators in the game. If Rinne can make four or five of his spectacular saves that he seems to have on a nightly basis, then the Predators will have a great shot.