The Nashville Predators faced another tough test in the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. The announcement of injuries to key players before the game made the job even harder.
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With the trade deadline approaching, it doesn’t take long for speculations to emerge. Fortunately, there were no trade announcements from the team.
Unfortunately, the Predators now face a significant setback in their Central Division climb. The players mentioned above will be out of the lineup for a while.
Johansen was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. He had just made it back into the lineup after missing several games due to injury. The team gave no timetable for his return.
Kunin was placed on the injured reserve list after sustaining a lower-body injury. He will be out of the lineup for 2-4 weeks.
A big hit to the defensive core was the absence of Ellis due to an upper-body injury. The timetable for his return is 4-6 weeks. The worst-case scenario would have Ellis returning to the lineup about two weeks before the end of the season.
What Stood Out For The Nashville Predators
With so many players out of the lineup, fans got an early taste of what a youth movement could look like for the Predators.
Forward Tanner Jeannot made his NHL debut on the fourth line with Colton Sissons and Mathieu Olivier, another newer addition to the lineup this season. Some other notable “youngsters” in the lineup were Eeli Tolvanen, Ben Harpur, and Alexandre Carrier.
With so many new faces and different line combinations, especially on defense, the Predators struggled to gel and were outworked by a very tough Carolina team.
Juuse Saros gave up a goal in the first period but then took a hard helmet-to-helmet shot from Carolina’s Nino Niederreiter. After giving up another goal later, Saros, feeling the hit’s effects, was done for the night at the end of the first period.
Pekka Rinne relieved Saros but was then bit by yet another fluky goal putting the Hurricanes up 3-0. After that goal, Rinne settled in and prevented the Hurricanes from running away with the score.
The Predators began to click and put up another third-period surge. Goals by Calle Jarnkrok and Mattias Ekholm, his third in two games, brought the game back within reach. Whether for the good of the team or trade value, Ekholm is showing his worth.
A late penalty meant that the Predators could not take advantage of an extra man when Rinne was pulled from the net. Carolina scored an empty-netter to make the final score 4-2.
Other Notes From The Game
We are awaiting word on the status of Saros after sustaining the hit from Niederreiter. If Saros enters a concussion protocol, we will see some starts for goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, a taxi squad member.
Several Predators were visibly upset last night during the game and in its closing minutes. The frustrations that they are feeling at how this season is going should indeed be used as motivation.
The Predators showed some grit in the third period and that they weren’t going to quit. If they can implement the new players quickly and get some chemistry going, they may surprise some people.
With the trade deadline looming, a very tough schedule ahead, and lots of new players to integrate, the Predators face a very tough road ahead in the coming weeks.
Changes are imminent, and this team may not look the same in a couple of weeks. It will be up to the remaining leaders to help the younger players weather the storm and reclaim their identity they have lost over the past couple of seasons.
But as they showed us last night in the third period against a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, this team has some fight left in them. With their backs in a corner, they have no choice but to come out swinging.