This will be the club’s third and final game against the Kraken this season, and will be the second Predators game in a row nationally broadcasted on TNT.
Going into tonight’s matchup, both teams have a win in the season series. The first time the Preds faced Seattle was the season-opener on October 14 in Nashville. That game resulted in Seattle’s first franchise win as they beat Nashville 4-3. Juuse Saros stopped 22 of 25 shots and Mikael Granlund picked up a point on all three goals with a goal and two helpers in the losing effort.
Then in January, the Preds made their first trip to Seattle and Saros stole the show making 33 saves in a 4-2 win.
With a win tonight, the Predators would take the third spot in the Central Division from the Minnesota Wild, at least temporarily. The Wild have three games in hand after tonight’s game.
Tonight’s game is a must win for the Nashville Predators. Seattle is currently the third-worst team in the league ahead of only Arizona and Montreal, and the Predators schedule over the next five games is no walk in the park.
In the next five games the Preds play Dallas, Anaheim and St. Louis at home and Minnesota on the road.
The St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild are both ahead of Nashville in the standings, by six and one point respectively. The Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks are both three points behind Nashville, which makes the game tonight against Seattle incredibly important.
Seattle Kraken vs. Nashville Predators: Goaltending
The Seattle Kraken haven’t gotten much, if any, help from their goaltending duo of Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger this season. Grubauer has started both games against Nashville this and stopped 50 out of 57 shots, which leaves him with a .877 save percentage and 3.50 goals against average in two meetings.
These numbers are in line with his overall numbers this season, which are among some of the worst in the NHL among qualified goaltenders.
Gruabauer has a .888 sv% and 3.17 GAA overall. His underlying analytics are even worse, according to moneypuck.com. He has a league worst -30.2 goals saved above expected (GSAA), which is an entire two times worse than the closest goalie to him.
The GSAA stat represents the number of goals allowed by a goaltender compared to the number that would have been allowed by an average NHL goalie, a negative number is not good, and a -30 is incredibly poor.
On the flip side, the Predators have had some of the leagues best goaltending from Saros.
Saros has stopped 55 of the 60 shots he has faced against the Kraken this season, which is a .916 save percentage.
Saros’ underlying analytic numbers have been just as good, per moneypuck.com. His GSAA at 18.9, which is fourth highest in the NHL this season, behind Vezina front-runner Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers, Frederik Andersen of the Carolina Hurricanes and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Roman Josi is once again putting himself in the Norris Trophy finalist discussion. Sitting second in points by a defenseman this season with 53 points in 51 games, Josi is setting himself up to blow by his previous career high of 65 points, which was accomplished in 69 games during the shortended 2019-20 season.
Tonight, Josi has a chance to collect his 500th career point, a milestone accomplished by only 72 defensemen in NHL history.
Josi’s 500th point will tie him with Ed Jovanovski at 72nd in all-time scoring for an NHL defenseman.
When Josi reaches the milestone, he will be the only defenseman to collect his 500th career point while wearing a Predators uniform. The other three former Preds defenseman accomplished it after playing for the Predators. Those defensemen were Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Kimmo Timonen.
Weber scored his 500th point as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, Suter as a member of the Minnesota Wild, and Timonen as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Kraken are currently shorthanded on offense. Late in December it was announced that forward Brandon Tanev would miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury, which was a major blow to the Kraken, on the ice and in the locker room.
Tanev scored two goals against the Predators in the first meeting of the season, so the Predators certainly will benefit from his absence in the Kraken lineup.
McCann had a goal and an assist in the two games against Nashville and has 21 goals in 48 games.
Schwartz didn’t register a point in either game against the Preds, but has spent a majority of the season on the Kraken’s first line, where he has 20 points in 29 games.
These key injuries will certainly play a part in tonight’s game as all three of the missing players started the season on Seattle’s top two offensive lines.
The Nashville Predators’ coaching staff and players are aware of how difficult the schedule is for them in the month of March, and they know that if they want to make the playoffs, they will need to take it up a notch this month, especially against the less skilled teams like the Kraken.
However, it is these games against basement dwelling teams that tend to be overlooked and underperformed in. The Predators can’t let that be the case tonight.
If Nashville can pot a couple of goal in the first, I think they will be able to ride it out defensively and come away with a 4-1 win against the injury plagued Kraken.