Nashville Predators: A Matinee Match with the New York Islanders

Nashville Predators center Matt Duchene (95) waits for a face off during the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators center Matt Duchene (95) waits for a face off during the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oh Nashville Predators fans how we’ve missed you. A three day break only seven games into the 2021/2022 campaign felt like an eternity especially after the Preds secured a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night to begin their first winning streak of the season (yeah it’s only two but by definition, it is a streak)!

The Predators are flying high, and although the momentum may have been stalled a little with a mini bye week by NHL standards, it’s time to get things rolling with a big test against one of the NHL’s elite squads in Barry Trotz’s New York Islanders.

Here are a couple of keys to winning this matinee match with the Isles!

Coach Hynes, Let The Top Line Roll!

While some of the production we have seen from the top-line combination of Ryan Johansen, Matt Duchene, and Filip Forsberg has been a result of a suddenly world-beater-looking powerplay, 31.8% to be exact (via NHL.com), good for 3rd in the entire NHL through seven games.

It cannot go unnoticed that there is a rejuvenation in the games early on in this season from Duchene and Johansen notably.

The pair has combined 11 points, and three powerplay goals early on and while the all-around game still needs to be established a little more, there have been some very good things from the two that will have to continue in order for the Nashville Predators to achieve sustainable success over the long term.

After three days of rest, I am looking for both to have an impact on the scoresheet this afternoon as the Preds face a stingy team capable of stymieing any offense in the NHL. The top line is going to have to roll on their early success in order to have success today against the Isles.

Have You Heard about the HERD?

The Nashville Predators 2020/2021 “4th line” (sure we will call it that for depth chart purposes) has continued to see success and be it for times not altogether on one line.

The combination of Colton Sissons, Tanner Jeannot, and Yakov Trenin have all proven their abilities to wreak havoc on the forecheck, pot timely goals, and add momentum turning hits, or dropping the mitts just for good measure.

Call it what you will, but this is flat out one of the most productive “4th lines” across the league and we are now at the point where it is time to strip them of the designation of where they slot in the Nashville Predator’s depth chart.

Head Coach John Hynes clearly trusts each of them to go out and make an impact in any and all situations against any opponent, and that will need to continue as the Isles have a number of these types of players that execute in similar roles as good as anyone in the NHL. The “Herd” will need to be heard from in a variety of facets to earn a W today.

The Born Identity

Through seven games in this young season, we have seen a number of examples that suggest this team is capable of achieving some success this season. There is the reason for optimism and it stems from the Predators leaning into an identity that ironically enough today, Barry Trotz helped form over the course of 15+ seasons as the first coach of the team.

The Nashville Predators are establishing a reinvigorated “Predator Way”, one that knows itself is capable of success if they simply outwork other teams. They aren’t going to astound you with the flashiest style of hockey, the highlight reel goals will be few and far between, but playing fundamentally structured, responsible, and hard-working, “3-2” hockey is exactly what this team will have to rely on to achieve its full potential. What that full potential remains to be seen, what is for certain however is there is no better measuring stick than facing the most steadfast, identity-defined teams in the New York Islanders.

I expect a low-scoring, defensive-minded affair that will be won by the team that wins the most puck battles, and stays the most disciplined on a Saturday afternoon in Smashville! Enjoy the game, and maybe if you’re looking at your bet slips, it might be prudent to take the under. Go Preds!