Nashville Predators: Four takeaways from doubleheader sweep of Panthers

(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Preseason action opened yesterday as the Nashville Predators swept the Florida Panthers in a doubleheader. Here are four things we learned.

The Nashville Predators played hockey yesterday. Let that truth sink in for just a moment. Yesterday, the Predators took on the Florida Panthers in a preseason doubleheader. While it may not count in the long-term, what we witnessed was exciting. Could it be a sign of things to come?

We certainly hope so.

In the opening game, the Predators shutout the Panthers while five different players scored a goal. Calle Jarnkrok tallied the first goal on a power-play, followed by a one-timer from P.K. Subban in the second. Juuse Saros started in net, making 24 saves to hold off the Panthers in the 5-0 shutout.

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The second game was a bit different, though the ending result was similar. The Panthers took an early 1-0 lead, but Filip Forsberg found an open corner while the Predators were on a two-man advantage. Forsberg would add two more goals, while linemates Ryan Johansen and Kevin Fiala both found the back of the net once each. The Predators took another win, 5-3 being the final score.

What we learned

The Predators still have great goaltending. Throughout the second game, the Panthers put pressure on the Predators defense. Florida led the FenwickFor battle at even-strength by wide margins in the first and third periods. Additionally, they gained eight high-dangers chances in the first two periods. During the playoffs, this was Pekka Rinne‘s undoing. However, last night he allowed only one goal on 13 total shots. Even the goal was a bit lucky, as his own teammate knocked it in the net.

As for Saros, he saved 24 shots while playing 52:45 minutes. It helped that the Predators allowed only one high-danger chance while at even-strength for the first two periods.

Could there be a new top line? It is doubtful, but Fiala certainly played well with Forsberg and Johansen. The young winger scored a goal and four total assists in 16 minutes. Three of those assists were primary, giving Fiala nearly 15 primary points per 60 minutes average. Of course, this will not last. In 2017-18, Fiala finished with a 1.83 P1/60, which was third on the team behind Craig Smith and Forsberg. While he may not take Viktor Arvidsson‘s place on the top line, a great contribution from Fiala is certainly welcome.

Speaking of Arvidsson, he continues to show why he is important to the Predators. Lined up with Kyle Turris and Calle Jarnkrok in the opening game, Arvidsson created six scoring chances, including two high-danger opportunities. His energy and grittiness continue to put the Nashville Predators in position to score. Just ask Jarnkrok, who scored the first goal of the preseason with an assist from Arvidsson.

Finally, several players made strong statements yesterday. Colton Sission tallied an assist yesterday, but also gained eight hits, a block, and a takeaway. He also won 83% of his faceoffs. Rocco Grimaldi played a strong first game as well. Vying for a place on the NHL roster, Grimaldi scored a goal, but generated a team-high five scoring chances. The new Predators forward was all over the place during the game, making positive contributions.

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Sure. It is just the preseason. But, the total package presented by the Nashville Predators looks lethal. To keep up with other teams in the Western Conference, this type of production is needed.