It’s finally here. The puck drops today. Well, sort of. The Predators will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in a preseason matchup tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Florida. It will be the first chance to see the new-look Predators in game action.
(Full Predators game roster can be found here).
Here are some headlines to take a look at in regards to the preseason opener:
What Will The Line Combinations Be?
Throughout training camp, new head coach Peter Laviolette has been toying with line combinations. He is trying to figure out what players can gel with each other. Naturally, he has thrown Mike Ribeiro and James Neal out with each other, given their prior history. But, this is the first real game action for the Predators. It’s a different animal then that of a scrimmage. Who will Laviolette throw on the ice together? Will he continue his experimentation? Some players may see different line mates almost every shift.
Can The Rookies Play With NHL-level Competition?
This will also be the first chance to see players like Kevin Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson in NHL action.Miikka Salomaki in last year’s preseason. Can he crack the NHL roster now? Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sp. How will they perform in an NHL game? For Fiala and Arvidsson, this will be their first time playing a sanctioned hockey game in North America. It will be interesting to see how they adjust to the smaller rink size and faster-paced game in the NHL.
Also, for a player like Miikka Salomaki, this is the first chance he has to prove he grew as a player in Milwaukee. He spent last season in Milwaukee in the AHL, so he has some North American experience. But, can he skate with the “big boys?” If he proves he’s got what it takes, he could be a top candidate to make the roster out of training camp.
What Does This New System Really Look Like?
Peter Laviolette will be behind the bench for the Predators for the first time tonight. It’s the first chance to see his new system in real game action. We’ve all heard about how he is making the Predators a faster-paced, offensively-inclined team; it will be interesting to see how the new system looks and how it results on the ice.
All indications out of training camp are that Laviolette’s system is resonating with the players, especially the young players. They are starting to buy into it. If this is true, tonight’s game could be the first sign of the culture change within the Predators organization.
The game is not being teleivsed anywhere, but we will keep you up to date if any radio broadcasts of the game are found.
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