You can’t ever get too high on preseason wins, but the Nashville Predators certainly brought reasons for optimism with their two-game set against the back-to-back reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
When you put up 12 goals in two games, you have a reason to be pleased with what you’ve been building throughout training camp.
The Predators have now brought their preseason record to 2-1-1 after using a different combination of starting lineups blended with young talent and core veterans, and it brought strong results on the scoreboard.
Offense erupts against Tampa Bay
On Thursday, the Predators went down to Tampa Bay and got their first preseason win to the final score of 6-2, with the fast rising prospect Egor Afanasyev nearly netting a hat trick and bring his preseason goal total to three goals.
Afanasyev has done everything he can this preseason to raise his stock and make coaches really think hard about giving him a roster spot to open the regular season. He might very well have two more preseason games against the Hurricanes to elevate that stock even more.
Some veterans who have had no shortage of scrutiny over the last couple of season also got in on the scoring, with Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg both getting goals in the opening period on Thursday.
You love to see Forsberg go out on a mission to have a dominant showing with three points (2 goals, 1 assist) in just under 19 minutes of ice time. He’s been in the news recently after his comments regarding his long-term future with the Predators.
Connor Ingram continued his solid preseason making 13 saves on 14 shots before being relieved by David Rittich, who is projected to be the regular season backup to Juuse Saros. Rittich made six saves on seven shots faced.
Nashville Predators don’t cool down back at Bridgestone Arena
After putting up six goals on the road in Tampa Bay for their first preseason win, the Nashville Predators made their home debut back at Bridgestone Arena and added another six goals on Saturday night.
The Predators defense can’t be overlooked here as they surrendered just 17 shots on goal to a Tampa Bay roster that was missing many of their top offensive players. Even so, Saros looked sharp when he was tested with 16 saves as he played the full game.
You would kind of expect the Predators to dominate this game as the rosters were pretty lopsided. This was a starting lineup that looked close to what it will look like in the season-opener against the Seattle Kraken on October 14.
Everyone who scored in Saturday’s 6-1 win got their first goal of the preseason, so the scoring has definitely been spread out which is nice to see. Alexandre Carrier, Philip Tomasino, Mathieu Olivier, Rocco Grimaldi, Luke Kunin and Nick Cousins all got goals in this complete performance.
To put a stamp on this outstanding home performance for the Predators, special teams was very successful striking twice on the power play and keeping the Lightning scoreless on their power play in seven, yes seven, attempts.
Need to cut down on the penalties, but the Predators certainly seem to be building on something in their specials teams play, which will be vital to their success this season.
Head Coach John Hynes has a lot to be pleased about through the four preseason games. Even in the two losses against the Florida Panthers, there were things to be encouraged by as most of the veterans didn’t play in that doubleheader.
Hynes expressed his positive thoughts on the team’s competitive attitude and building an identity, per NashvillePredators.com.
The roster has now been cut down to just 39 players, including the highly-touted Finnish prospect Juuso Parssinen heading back overseas to the Liiga, and a handful of players reporting back to the Milwaukee Admirals:
- Tomas Vomacka, G
- Grant Mismash, F
- Patrick Harper, F
- Marc Del Gaizo, D
This means we should get a steady dose of top-end prospects like Tomasino, Afanasyev, Ingram and David Farrance over the last two preseason games against the Hurricanes. Next game is this Tuesday at Carolina.
It’s been a very productive preseason so far as we’ve seen players up and down the roster show positive signs that should be building up that confidence level in time for the start of the 2021-22 regular season.