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Preview: Calgary Flames vs Nashville Predators 12/8/2018 (30/82): Best in the West?

The two divisions leaders in the West square off

NHL: Nashville Predators at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary Flames vs Nashville Predators, 8 PM MT,

Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary AB

TV: CBC

Radio: Sportsnet 960

Calgary Flames 18-9-2 (38 pts) - Nashville Predators 19-9-1 (39 pts)

NHL Standings

The Calgary Flames will be entering Saturday night’s tilt with the Nashville Predators on a four game winning streak. The most recent victory was the result of a hard fought 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. Thursday’s contest was a large departure from the previous 9-6 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and should give Flames fans confidence that the Flames can win both types of games. Mike Smith was solid in net, picking up his second shutout of the season and seeming to have firmly reclaimed the starter’s net for now. His first shutout of the year? A 3-0 victory over these Preds in October.

It’s very possible that first place in the Western Conference could be on the line in tonight’s game depending on how the Avalanche do in Tampa Bay. With a bit of luck, the Flames could be first in the West after tonight, who would’ve thunk it?

The story of tonight’s game will be the players missing for both sides. The Predators will be missing big guns Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Kyle Turris, and P.K. Subban while the Flames will be without Mikael Backlund (injury), Mark Giordano (suspension), and Ryan Lomberg (suspension). It appears that Juuso Valimaki and Michael Frolik will still be out of the lineup as well for Calgary.

The Predators have fared well at the Saddledome in recent history, going 5-1-2 in their last eight visits. Juuse Saros was a big part of Nashville’s victory at Calgary earlier in the season when he came in relief of Pekka Rinne and stoned the Flames en route to a win.

As mentioned these teams have split the series thus far with Calgary winning 3-0 in Nashville, and the Predators winning 5-3 in Calgary. Tonight is their final meeting of the 2018-19 regular season.

Calgary is 9-3-2 at home this year while Nashville is 8-4-1 on the road.

Starting Goalies (E=Expected, C=Confirmed)

Flames: Mike Smith (E) - 10-7-1, .892 SV%, 2.93 GAA

Predators: Pekka Rinne (E) 12-5-1, .930 SV%, 1.96 GAA

What’s Happening with the Opposition?

Last Time Out

Calgary Flames 2, Minnesota Wild 0

Nashville Predators 3, Vancouver Canucks 5

Players to Watch

Calgary Flames

Montreal Canadiens v Calgary Flames Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Mark Jankowski - Early indications are that he’s going to get the first crack at filling the massive shoes left by Backlund’s departure from the lineup. We’ll see how he performs with a tough opponent right off the bat. 6 points in his last 8 games

Nashville Predators

Tampa Bay Lightning v Nashville Predators Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Roman Josi - A very dangerous offensive defenseman on the back end. Has fired 108 shots on net this year which is the highest total for a defenseman, and eighth in the league overall.