Nashville opens season against hated Chicago
Nashville struggled to keep up with longtime nemesis Chicago a year ago. Will this evening’s 2016-17 opener in Music City take on a different tenor?
Peter Laviolette’s crew hosts the Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Predators odds of -130 to prevail at Bridgestone Arena. Conversely, the Central Division’s recent standard bearers represent +110 underdogs.
The Preds boast a decidedly different look entering the new campaign. P.K. Subban acquired in a June trade with Montreal, joins a blue line that already features standouts like Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm. Former first-round pick Rick Fiala also leaps into a top-six role. The highly skilled center should team with elite scorers Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen on a regular basis.
If Nashville wants to start conquering the NHL’s true titans, though, it needs to receive superior goaltending from Pekka Rinne. The Finland native has finished with a save percentage below the league average in three of the past four seasons. He promises to be tested by a Chicago attack that’s still smarting from a 5-2 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday.
The home squad went 2-3-0 against the Blackhawks last year. While we definitely believe that the Predators have closed the gap on the Windy City’s finest, expect the visitors to do everything possible to avoid falling to 0-2. Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews could well pot the deciding goal late in the festivities.
FRIDAY NHL FREE PICK: BLACKHAWKS +1.5