Nashville Predators: Keys To Victory In Florida Rematch

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 04: Calle Jarnkrok #19 of the Nashville Predators skates against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on November 04, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 04: Calle Jarnkrok #19 of the Nashville Predators skates against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on November 04, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Nashville Predators are playing some of their best hockey of the season in a bid to try to climb up in the Central Division standings and keep some teammates around a little bit longer.

After upsetting the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers, the Predators look to continue their winning streak on Saturday.

The Predators are now 3-2-1 as they prepare for another round against the Panthers. Their epic eight-game road trip is coming to an end with better-than-expected results.

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With a host of injuries to key players and facing the top teams in the Central Division, not many thought that the Predators would fare as well as they have on this road trip.

Inconsistent play and a myriad of other problems were put on the backburner, and the Predators adopted a “next man up” attitude and showed that they aren’t ready to throw in the towel.

However, you can bet that the Florida Panthers will come out swinging in Saturday’s matchup. The Predators can’t put on the cruise control and think that they can come away with the victory against the Panthers.

Florida, Tampa Bay, and Carolina are in a very heated battle for the top spot in the Central Division and are pulling away from the rest of the field.

The Predators are six points out of that coveted fourth playoff spot, so every point is important.

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again

Juuse Saros put on a goaltending clinic in his first game back from an upper-body injury. He stopped 40 of 41 shots against the Panthers on Thursday for a .976 SV%.

Saros made several key saves in the 2-1 victory and looked calm and collected in the net. Assuming he gets the start, which he should, he will need to duplicate Thursday’s performance but on a higher level.

Saros tends to get hot at the right time. After the midpoint of last season, Saros went on a tear and was one of the league’s top goaltenders.

Now the Predators will need him more than ever if they hope to claw their way to the fourth playoff spot.

Jarny For The Win

Everyone seems to be a little surprised at the season that Calle Jarnkrok is having after his last performance in the game against Florida, where he scored both goals to win the game.

No one should be surprised. While he did have a bit of a down year last season, Jarnkrok is one of the most consistent on the Predators roster and is a dependable 30 point scorer.

Head Coach John Hynes needs to realize that Jarnkrok is on a hot streak and do whatever he can to put him in a position to score. Keeping him on a line with Mikael Granlund and Viktor Arvidsson sounds like a great idea, Coach.

Saturday, March 20. 97. 1 PM CDT. 13-16-1. 151. Fox Sports TN. 19-6-4.

More Of What Happened On Thursday

The Predators played a good, solid game against the Panthers on Thursday. It is time to start seeing that same intensity and consistency in every game.

Nashville has done a great job these past two games of keeping their heads, staying out of the penalty box for the most part, and not making too many mistakes that teams like Tampa Bay and Florida can capitalize on.

The de facto youth movement that is taking place due to injuries is exciting to watch. These younger players like Alexander Carrier and Mathieu Olivier are gaining much-needed time on the NHL ice. It will be interesting to see how they respond on Saturday now that the team is playing better hockey and with a small winning streak to boot.

Hynes also needs to keep the top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Eeli Tolvanen together, if for nothing more than to keep setting up Tolvanen for success.

It is fun to watch Tolvanen gain confidence with each game he plays. He will be a big part of whatever kind of rebuild that the Predators go through in the near future.

If the younger players respond well today and the Predators get the victory, some big lineup decisions will need to be made once the injured veterans return.

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I’m now going to use the over-used phrase of “big game.” Today is a big game for the Predators. They are making a case for themselves by playing better and making some headway in the standings.

If they continue to play in this fashion, Predators’ management will have some tough decisions to make at the trade deadline.

While it will be tough to see some players get traded, especially when playing well, it will be for the best. If this team is to have success in the future, management must make changes.

The puck drops at 1 PM CDT and will be televised on Fox Sports Tennessee. Follow along with us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute game commentary.