The Florida Panthers have been one of the surprises this season, winning 14 of their first 22 games this season to put them near the top of the Central Division. With a 5-4 victory in the first game of a mini-series against the Nashville Predators, the Panthers are hoping that they can sweep the Predators and continue their impressive season. The Predators meanwhile are hoping that the losses stop piling up as they are in 6th place in the division and might have to sell at the deadline if the losing continues.
Panthers have found scoring depthThe Florida Panthers have been one of the biggest surprises this season as they have been the best team in the Central Division at times. Part of the success for the Panthers has been their ability to find goal-scoring throughout the lineup. While Jonathan Huberdeau and Patric Hornqvist have scored 9 goals each, the Panthers have 6 skaters with 7 goals or more this season, including defenseman Aaron Ekblad who has 8 on the season.
In addition to the offense playing well this year, the defense is allowing only 2.8 goals per game and has two great pairings. Radko Gudas and MacKenzie Weegar have combined for 2.8 defensive point shares and 46 blocked shots while Aaron Ekblad and Anton Stralman combined for 1.9 defensive point shares and 32 blocked shots. The Panthers have also found goaltending depth with Sergei Bobrovskiy and Chris Driedger splitting time in net and Driedger surprising many with a .926 save percentage and 2.2 goals allowed per game.
Predators offense has struggled this seasonThe Predators have been a disappointment this season, to say the least, winning 10 of their first 23 games. The team has struggled across the board but has been particularly bad on the offensive end, scoring 2.3 goals per game. Aside from Filip Forsberg and his 10 goals, there aren't many skaters finding the back of the net with Calle Jarnkrok having the next most goals with 5 on the season.
The defense is usually great in Nashville but has been underwhelming this season, allowing 3.1 goals per game. Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm have played well this season, combining for 2.2 defensive point shares and 54 blocked shots, plus Dante Fabbro has blocked 31 shots this season, but the rest of the unit has struggled. In addition, the goaltending duo of Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne has been good but not good enough for the team's liabilities, allowing 2.8 goals per game and saving .902 percent of shots.