We finally have hockey back, and the Nashville Predators opened the 2022 preseason with a mixed bag of things to be pleased with, and things to work on.
The Nashville Predators are opening the preseason with a doubleheader against the Florida Panthers and dropped the first game in overtime by a 4-3 final score.
You can’t ever draw any sweeping conclusions one way or the other in a preseason game, much less the first preseason game. It’s all about working on systems and addressing areas of weakness. Head Coach John Hynes should have plenty to address from both after the first preseason game.
As you would expect, the action started with the Nashville Predators having a hard time making crisp passes and getting organized. As the game wore on, you saw more sustained offensive pressure and things starting to click.
Here are three players that really stood out in Game 1 of the doubleheader from Bridgestone Arena.
1. Dante Fabbro emerges as leader for Nashville Predators
Without veterans Ryan McDonagh, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm playing in Game 1, it was Dante Fabbro’s chance to take charge. It’s hard to find much wrong with his performance as he quarterbacked a lot of zone time, and led the team in ice time with 25:12, over three minutes more than the next player in Alexandre Carrier.
Fabbro made his presence known defensively by blocking shots with four, and just being in the right place. Despite the four goals surrendered by the Predators, I don’t think it was a horrendous defensive showing by any means.
It’s going to be an important season for Fabbro personally as he is likely facing somewhat of a decreased role on this team with the addition of McDonagh. How will he respond to that will be interesting.
As of now, Fabbro opened up the preseason with a lot to be pleased with.
2. Juuso Pärssinen’s stock keeps rising
The stock of this guy just keeps rising. Pärssinen tallied the first goal of the Nashville Predators preseason slate on a breakaway with Philip Tomasino getting the primary assist. Check out the goal courtesy of Alex Daugherty of AtoZSports:
Pärssinen is expected to have a large role with the Milwaukee Admirals this upcoming season, and it isn’t far-fetched to think he gets a call up at some point to the NHL club in 2022-23. If he keeps showing up like he has in rookie camp and now in the preseason opener, then coaches are going to be hard-pressed to give him an NHL opportunity soon.
As of now, Pärssinen is one track to have a really strong year in Milwaukee and is looking like a massive draft steal from 2019 when he was drafted in the 7th round.
3. Ryan Johansen has a new sidekick
Normally you wouldn’t be that focused on a veteran like Johansen in the preseason, but it’s different this year because we’re wanting to see the chemistry he has with Nino Niederreiter.
As expected, Johansen was on a line with Niederreiter and it didn’t take long for those two to start connecting. As the Predators played from behind in the middle of the game, Johansen tallied a tip in goal off a shot from Niederreiter, giving us a taste of what is hopefully in store for us in the regular season.
This is why many people are picking the Predators to not only make the playoffs again in 2022-23, but actually have a chance to do even more. A formidable top two lines is paramount if you’re going to compete with the elite teams, and it was awesome to see Johansen and Niederreiter already having a solid connection this early in the preseason.
Johansen set a personal career high while in a Predators uniform last season in goals with 26. There is no reason to think he can’t replicate that this season now that Niederreiter is in the mix. He will bring out the very best in Johansen.
The Nashville Predators will play Game 2 of the doubleheader against the Panthers later tonight.