Nashville Predators: Time to Deploy the Top Guns against Tampa Bay

Ryan Johansen #92 and Matt Duchene #95 of the Nashville Predators congratulate teammate Nick Cousins #21 . (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Ryan Johansen #92 and Matt Duchene #95 of the Nashville Predators congratulate teammate Nick Cousins #21 . (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

Up next on the preseason slate for the Nashville Predators is the Tampa Bay Lightning, the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. What better time than now to see where you’re team is at if you’re Head Coach John Hynes?

The Predators preseason opened up this past weekend with a Sunday doubleheader against another high quality opponent, the Florida Panthers. I’m all for facing stiff competition in the preseason to really get an idea of where your team is at before it really starts counting in the standings.

Hynes went with a predominantly young lineup in both games against the Panthers, which ended in two hard-fought losses. The Predators lost 5-4 in overtime in Game 1, and 3-1 in Game 2. Showings you can be pleased with considering the talent gap on paper.

. 6 PM CT. 0. 151. Preseason Game 3. Thursday, Sept 30. 0. 23

Time to see the Nashville Predators core veterans against Cup champs?

Now the focus shifts to working on improvements as the Predators have two days of practices before heading down to face Tampa Bay on the road before coming back to Nashville to face them again.

This seems like the perfect opportunity to work in the top veterans into a game, and treat it like a regular season game. Hynes can work in his initial lineup preferences to see if there’s something to build on, or that it’s back to the drawing board to come up with a starting lineup for October 14 against the Seattle Kraken.

Key veterans like Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Mikael Granlund, among others, didn’t appear in the preseason doubleheader against the Panthers, which made the two close results all the more encouraging.

This game also looks like a good spot to get Juuse Saros a start against an elite opponent like Tampa Bay to give him a chance to shake off some rust from the offseason layoff. Give him a couple periods and then maybe turn it over to David Rittich for the third period, depending on the flow of the game.

The Lightning are opening up their preseason slate tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. They appear to be going the route that the Predators went over the weekend by deploying most of their young players in this one, per Lightning Insider.

I’d really like to see this two-game set against Tampa Bay give the Predators core veterans a some quality preseason reps in, while also mixing in players like Philip Tomasino, Cody Glass and others who are looking to be an impactful part of the roster this season.

After this two-game set against the Lightning I would expect some significant roster subtractions to occur, which will lead the Predators into the final two preseason games against Carolina with just a few more roster battles to settle.

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A few roster moves have already been made as Zachary L’Heureux headlined the three players heading to their respective minor league clubs:

It really comes down to a handful of players on the fringe of making the opening night lineup; Tomasino leads the way, but Glass, Rem Pitlick, David Farrance, Ben Harpur and Rocco Grimaldi are others who are on that borderline of either being healthy scratches or not making the initial NHL roster at all. They should all get plenty more preseason action, including against Tampa Bay.

The final score in preseason games isn’t always the primary focus, but in this case, I’d like to see a win or two with the bulk of the projected starting lineup competing hard like it’s a regular season game.

Time to let the top veteran leaders of the revamped Nashville Predators see some preseason action against the cream of the crop that’s the Tampa Bay Lightning, which can give us at least some sort of an idea of where this team is at as the regular season quickly approaches.