Paul McCann: Game Night in Smashville – Cheesesteaks Anyone?

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Game Night in Smashville as the Nashville Predators welcome the Philadelphia Flyers to town for Shea Weber bobblehead night. All fans in attendance get a Weber bobblehead as an addition to their Christmas haul. A nice little gift and a sly little trolling…

The Flyers hit the three day Christmas break on a bit of a roll, winning three straight and getting back to the .500 level… going 6-1-3 in their last ten to climb back into 5th in the Metropolitan Division.

They have done this without Steve Mason… who remains sidelined with an upper body injury. Mason’s status is undetermined at this writing, but Nashville had very good results against this netminder when he patrolled the blue paint for Columbus.

Philadelphia is led by two usual suspects and a new one. Seeing Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds at the top of the scoring charts for the Flyers is not surprising… seeing Jakub Vorachek leading the team’s scoring is and while Philly’s road record is an anemic 6-9-3, their success rate against Western Conference teams is a very respectable 7-3-2 including a 4-2 record against the Central, with wins over Dallas, Colorado, Winnipeg and Minnesota… their Central losses have come to the Wild and Chicago.

Nashville gets back at it after a loss in Boston on Tuesday night in the second half of a tough road back-to-back. The Predators spent plenty of time on the road before the holidays, but maintained their position in the Central Division title race. As NHL play resumes today, the Predators stand second in the Central, two points behind the Blackhawks with two games in hand. A showdown in Chicago looms on Monday.

The Predators home dominance the league at 12-2-1… the other two top teams at home also reside in the Central with Chicago (12-4-1) and St. Louis (12-3-1). The Predators continue to dominate 5 on 5 and struggle on the power play, although special teams are showing signs of life pre-break.

No story about previewing a Preds game is complete without at least a mention of the incredible season being put in by Pekka Rinne. Leading the league in wins, third in shutouts, save percentage and GAA, Rinne has returned to the form expected of him after two years of battling hip issues. His swagger is back and the big Finn is dominating games, keeping his team in position to win.

Game time is 7pm… coverage on 102.5 the Game and Fox Sports Tennessee.

Here is your preview from nhl.com

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Random Notes

– Very limited tickets remain for tonight’s game… should be another Smashville Sellout.

– While the focus of the hockey world at the WJC is on Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, Pred fans are watching Jusse Saros and Kevin Fiala.

– Team USA got off to a good start in the WJC yesterday, posting a 2-1 shootout win over defending champ Finland.

– After the firing of Peter DeBoer yesterday, criticism is rapidly moving to Devils GM Lou Lamorillo.

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SlapShot Radio is back on Sirius/XM’s NHL Network Radio’s holiday programming lineup and will air at the following times…

Dec 27th @ 10am CT

Dec 28th @ Noon CT

Thanks to Joe Thistle and Peter Berce and the whole NHL Network Radio team.

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Our podcasts are posted… Click here to download or listen to any of this season’s podcasts.

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