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5 Things To Watch: Jan. 4 vs Nashville

by Jesse Cynamon / Florida Panthers

Whether you're going to the game or if you can't make it and are catching the game on FOX Sports Florida or 560 WQAM, here are the five things to look for in tonight's matchup against Nashville.

PREDATORS (18-18-5) at PANTHERS (15-20-6)
7:00 PM ET; TV: FOX Sports Network; RADIO: 560 AM
Last 10: Nashville 4-4-2; Florida 6-3-1

TOP PICKS COLLIDE: This matchup sees two top-4 selections from this past summer’s NHL Entry Draft face off. Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (the 2nd overall selection) is currently riding a career-high 4-game point streak and has nine points in the last 10 games. Barkov was taken two spots earlier than Predators’ defenseman Seth Jones. Jones, who is also heating up, has five points in his last five games.

YOUNG FRANCHISES: Both the Panthers and Predators are relatively recent expansion teams. This year the Panthers are celebrating their 20th season in the NHL while the Predators joined the league in 1998. The teams share more than a young, competitive history with each other. Peter Horachek was a member of the Nashville organization for 10 years before joining on to eventually become the Panthers’ head coach this year.

PANTHERS POINTS LEADERS: Currently, Tomas Fleischmann is leading the Panthers in points with 20 (5-15-20). Behind him is the rookie sensation Barkov with 19 points (7-12-19) – Barkov’s 19 points also ranks ninth among rookie leaders. Defenseman Brian Campbell is tied with Barkov with 19 points (5-14-19).

END OF A HOME-STAND: With this game against Nashville, the Panthers end a 5-game holiday home-stand. After the game the Panthers will be leaving for a 3-game road-trip, heading to Montreal, Buffalo and New Jersey, before returning home for a Tuesday, Jan. 14 game against the New York Islanders.

WORKHORSES: Panthers’ defenseman Brian Campbell is averaging 27:31 time-on-the-ice per game. Campbell, who is also putting up points for the Panthers, ranks 2nd in the NHL in minutes, trailing only Minnesota’s Ryan Suter and his 29:38 per game. The Predators have two players in the top-10 in this category with Shea Webber in 4th (26:49), and Roman Josi in 8th (25:42).

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