Nashville Predators: Hopeful Takeaways from Preseason Opener against Panthers

Nashville Predators (Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
Nashville Predators (Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports) /

For the first time since 2019 the Nashville Predators got some crucial preseason action under their belts as they took on the Florida Panthers in a Sunday doubleheader.

When you consider how new and young this Nashville Predators team is, getting preseason games is amplified in importance more so than your more experienced veteran teams, like the Panthers.

Head Coach John Hynes is finally getting the opportunity since taking over for Peter Laviolette in January 2020 of getting a full evaluation of his roster through exhibition games, training camp practices and prospect camps, as he commented on per

Young players give Nashville Predators a boostin both games

“I’m proud of the way we worked and I thought both groups played well. Great evaluation, and now there’s some areas we know we can continue to work on this week, and all positives from there.”- Head Coach John Hynes

Take the two losses out of it, even though you obviously would like to be coming off two wins. With that said, the Panthers threw out many of their top veterans while the Predators chose the route of getting key development for their younger players who are, in some cases, still not quite ready for the NHL level yet.

In that regard, you have to be pleased with the two results and how competitive the games were. Especially the first game of the day when the Predators took it all the way to overtime and lost 5-4.

In Game 1, Tanner Jeannot really stood out with his confident style of play and his normal aggressiveness. He tallied two goals, including one that was really impressive as he scooped up the loose puck and powered his way to the net for a goal over the shoulder of Panthers goaltender Sam Montembeault.

Not too long after that, Yakov Trenin got a shorthanded goal that you really love to see from a player that should find himself once again in the starting lineup on a regular basis for the Predators. Here’s a clip of that goal that put Nashville up 2-0:

Just a slam dunk of a goal from Trenin, and his confidence seems to be soaring as he becomes a regular contributors for the Predators heading into 2021-22.

Cody Glass, Rem Pitlick, Egor Afanasyev and Connor Ingram also looked sharp in their respective preseason action over the weekend.

This is what coaches were hoping to see against a high quality opponent like the Panthers that used many of their top players like Aaron Ekblad, Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weeger and Sam Bennett. All played over 20 minutes of ice time in Game 1.

In Game 2, which the Predators would lose 3-1, the Panthers threw out Anthony Duclair, Sam Reinhart and even 58-point scorer from last season, Aleksander Barkov.

I’m definitely encouraged by how the young Predators competed in this doubleheader despite the two losses.

Goaltending shows a mixed bag

Let’s start with the positive, and that was Connor Ingram. He’s looked to pick up where he left off in the AHL for the Milwaukee Admirals in 2019-20. He was the league’s most dominant goaltender, and he looked sharp before coming out for Devin Cooley in Game 1.

Ingram made 20 saves on 21 shots, including some really clutch saves to keep the score tight throughout. Despite not getting a lot of playing time in 2020 and 2021, he’s looking in top form at least in his initial preseason action.

As for Cooley, he struggled a bit as the high-powered offensive attack of the Panthers really heated up. He gave up four goals on 15 shots, but it’s a good learning experience for him as he looks to get vital experience in the AHL this upcoming season.

In Game 2 it was fully the David Rittich show as he enters as the backup goaltender to Juuse Saros this season. He faced a full workload from the Florida Panthers as he let in three goals on 30 shots.

Not a terrible showing from Rittich by any means as he was up against a lot of offensive talent from the Panthers, including Barkov who tallied three assists.

Rittich still managed a 90 save percentage and should get plenty more preseason reps. Ideally I’d like to see the next game against the Tampa Lightning feature Saros start the game, and Rittich finish it up.

All in all, a productive and encouraging doubleheader for the Nashville Predators considering none of their top veterans like Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Mikael Granlund and Ryan Johansen participated.

More. Top Players Who Are Ready for Breakout Seasons for Predators. light

The most seasoned veterans out of the forwards in this doubleheader was Nick Cousins (21:49 TOI), Rocco Grimaldi (22:27 TOI) and Luke Kunin (19:36 TOI). Every other forward was either still a prospect or still very new to their NHL careers.

I’d like to see more veterans get into the lineup against Tampa Bay on Thursday and get more of a “dress rehearsal” to the regular season.