Nashville Predators: Three Factors to Beating the Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger (60) blocks the puck behind Nashville Predators right wing Viktor Arvidsson Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Florida Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger (60) blocks the puck behind Nashville Predators right wing Viktor Arvidsson Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s been a challenging week for the Nashville Predators. They were riding high on a two-game winning streak amid a five-game homestand in Bridgestone Arena.

Before Tuesday’s game against the very tough Carolina Hurricanes, news came down that the Predators would be without some of its key players.

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Ryan Ellis and Luke Kunin, who were both injured in the last game against Columbus, have been placed on the injured reserve list. Ryan Johansen is now on the COVID-19 protocol list for an undetermined amount of time.

With those injuries came an influx of younger players to fill the empty slots in the roster. Fans clamoring for Nashville’s “youth movement” got a little preview on Tuesday night.

While the Predators looked rough in the first two periods, they made a bold push in the third period only to fall to the Hurricanes by a score of 4-2.

The Predators now face a two-game series at home against the Florida Panthers. Another high-powered offensive team.

The Predators and the Panthers split their first two meetings of the season, but a lot has changed for both of these teams. The Panthers have become one of the top teams in the Central Division, while the Predators have had less than stellar results and currently sit in sixth place.

Now with new lines, new players, and the threat of a rebuild hanging over their heads, the Predators must work harder than ever if they are to have any hope of success for the rest of the season.

Thursday, March 4. 10-12-0. 7 PM CDT. Fox Sports TN. 97. 151. . 13-4-4

Nashville Predators Need to Click….Fast

The younger players have been in the Predators’ system for quite some time, but they now find themselves getting NHL minutes, some for the first time.

The coaches and team leaders must work to get these players integrated and comfortable as quickly as possible.

We saw a bit of a learning curve in the first two periods on Tuesday against Carolina, but some things started to click by the third period.

While the injured players are out, the rest of the team has to step up and plug the holes. They will be going against a tough Panthers team, and everyone will have to be at the top of their game.

One interesting note in the projected lineup is pairing Alexandre Carrier with Roman Josi. An extraordinary opportunity for Carrier to score his first NHL point.

Tanner Jeannot is another youngster that’s getting acclimated to his first taste of NHL action. He made his NHL debut on Tuesday against Carolina, logging a modest 6:28 of ice time and a Corsi rating of just 30.

These are the growing pains you have to expect from some of these players that have little to no NHL experience. Be patient with them as there’s a lot of promise in these players they’re bringing up, including Jeannot.

Declaw the Panthers

The Panthers are coming off of a two-game losing streak against, coincidentally, the Hurricanes. They will be looking to make an example of the Predators and pick up some easy points.

The Predators will have two tall tasks ahead of them on Thursday, contain Florida’s shooters, and sneak the puck past Chris Driedger.

Frank Vatrano has the hot hand for Florida, scoring a goal in each of his past three games. Aleksander Barkov is also playing well, boasting four points in his past five games.

With the Predators’ having a hard time finding the back of the net, Driedger will be a test for them. His GAA on the season is 2.25 with a .926 SV%.

Now would be a good time for Viktor Arvidsson and Matt Duchene to go on a hot streak. Without their luck changing, the Predators aren’t going to find their way out of this offensive cold snap anytime soon.

We Need Rinne to Save Us

With Juuse Saros listed as day-to-day after suffering a collision with Nino Niederreiter on Tuesday, it will be up to Pekka Rinne to carry the Predators to victory.

Like the rest of the team, Rinne has had his share of struggles, though all of them are not of his doing. Even with some lapses, he still boasts a GAA of 2.46 and a .913 SV%.

Rinne has proven that he still has plenty left in the tank. We have witnessed some incredible “classic Rinne” saves this season.

You only have to go back one calendar month to see when Rinne helped carry the Predators to victory against the Panthers by saving all 12 shots faced after coming in for Saros. The Predators would win that game 6-5 in overtime.

The following night Rinne got the start and made 34 saves on 36 shots faced, but the Predators provided him no goal support with just one goal.

If Rinne can start strong and the Predators can do an excellent job of protecting the net front, they have the capability of limiting the Panther’s scoring ability.

However, the Predators must come out strong, execute their gameplan, and play a full sixty minutes of hockey if they are to have any chance of beating one of the best in the Central.

The puck drops at 7 PM CDT and will be televised on Fox Sports Tennessee. Follow along with us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute game commentary.

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