Training camp is over, the Nashville Predators are in Edmonton, and the playoff roster is set. The playoff roster mainly looks as expected.
From all indications, the Nashville Predators had a great training camp. The reformation of the JoFA line, Matt Duchene’s second line, and excellent net-minding from Juuse Saros were all hot topics for the past two weeks.
Head Coach John Hynes used this training camp to put his stamp on the team, something that time and the pandemic hadn’t allowed. We now know precisely who the coaching staff chose to make the trip to Edmonton.
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The Predators have chosen to take 30 players, including four goaltenders.
When training camp began, several Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL affiliate were brought in to work with the core team. Here are the players that made the playoff roster.
Some of these players were practicing with the main group. While highly unlikely, there’s a chance that they see some actual ice time in the playoffs. It would be a great idea to give a few of these guys a shift or two depending on how the games are going.
When Hynes took over, there was lots of line experimentation to try to find out what would work. Some lines were successful; some were not.
All indications point to Hynes going with lines that have had past success. The first line led by Ryan Johansen, the second line led by Duchene, and the third line led by Nick Bonino have all been successful at one time or another and have lots of chemistry.
The fourth offensive line is where I have reservations. Here are the lines used for the final practice.
Final Training Camp lines:
Rotating: Blackwell, Trenin
Rinne / Saros
— Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) July 25, 2020
Putting Calle Jarnkrok and Colton Sissons on that fourth line has great potential. Both of those guys could easily be on the third line, although Sissons has struggled a bit. My main concern would be starting Austin Watson.
While we aren’t entirely sure who will be the actual starter, I would like to see Hynes start Colin Blackwell and rotate Watson and Trenin in if needed. Blackwell put up better numbers than Watson in his limited time with the Predators this season.
Watson has been non-existent for the majority of the season. He spent some time as a healthy scratch as well. His saving grace must be the fact that he has playoff experience and is willing to get in a scrap at the drop of a hat.
Blackwell and Trenin have no NHL playoff experience at all. But no playoff experience shouldn’t be the only deciding factor. Both of these guys inject a different kind of positive energy into the bottom part of the lineup.
Depth is critical during the grind of the playoffs, so figuring out who gets into the bottom-six of the lineup is almost as important of a decision as the top part of the lineup.
Bottom Defensive Pairing
Using the final practice pairings as a guide, there’s a snapshot of what the defense could look like. I have full confidence in the first two defensive pairings. It’s the third pairing that raises concerns.
Hynes appears to be going with the experience of Dan Hamhuis matched with Korbinian Holzer. Hamhuis does have playoff experience, but he’s nearing the end of his successful career. He’s in the final year of his contract, and at age 37 is probably participating in his last postseason.
Holzer has limited playoff experience, having only played in five games with the Anaheim Ducks. He only played with the Predators in three games before the season was paused.
Although he has no playoff experience, I would like to see Carrier matched up with Holzer as the third pair at some point. Carrier could bring some speed and possibly some offense to that pairing, one that has lacked both all season.
The Predators will need all of the offense they can muster when they take on the defensive-minded Arizona Coyotes.
Tolvanen has minimal experience on the Predators roster, having only played in seven games, the last being in December 2018. He would make an excellent addition to the Predators struggling power play, having scored seven of his 21 goals on the power play while in Milwaukee.
Carr has spent some time with the Predators this season. He played in eleven games and scored one goal. But he failed to make a big enough impact to remain on the NHL roster for too long.
McCarron is the surprise of the roster additions. This massive forward scored a goal during training camp. His size and strength to control possession could offer the Predators a different look on offense should the need arise.
The Predators are taking all four of their goaltenders to Edmonton. Hynes said that a starting goaltender would not be named until later this week, but don’t expect Ingram or Grosenick to get into a game unless a bad injury occurs and things start going bad in a hurry.
This playoff appearance for the Predators is significant. The fact that the qualifying round is a best-of-five series makes it even more so. A short series doesn’t allow for too many mistakes.
It may not be in Hynes’ playbook to shake the lines up too much, but it’s good to know that he has the option to do so if needed. Tovlanen, McCarron and Carrier are three roster additions that have decent shots at getting ice time if others struggle.
With high confidence in the upper echelon players, I like the fact that with some minor tweaks, all of the lines have the potential to be dangerous. The Predators need a four-line attack if they’re going to crack a tough Arizona defense and get to the round of 16 teams.