Nashville Predators vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Preview: Players to Watch

Sep 26, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Roland McKeown (55) celebrates with teammates after a goal during the second period against the Florida Panthers at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Roland McKeown (55) celebrates with teammates after a goal during the second period against the Florida Panthers at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

In the wake of Hurricane Ian hitting the Florida west coast and just south of the Tampa Bay area, the Nashville Predators will play their next preseason games against Lightning at home.

The Predators have three more preseason games left, with one of them coming overseas in Switzerland to take on SC Bern on October 3.

We got to see a wide range of prospects and veterans in the Predators preseason opening doubleheader against the Florida Panthers on Monday, which ended in an overtime loss and a dominating 4-0 shutout win thanks to a joint performance in net from Kevin Lankinen and Yaroslav Askarov.

Star players Roman Josi, Mikael Granlund and Juuse Saros did not play in the first two preseason games, so we’ll have to see if they get any work against the Lightning. I would expect to see all three but wouldn’t be overly surprised if Josi is held out.

Will Saros get his first game action since last season’s late injury?

Although I don’t think Saros needs a ton of work in the preseason, I would like to see him at least get a couple periods in one of the games against the Lightning. If for nothing else just to allow him to get some live game reps since it has been longer than normal for a goaltender to have off time from game action.

Saros will be the heavy workhorse once again, but the expectation is that Lankinen takes off some of that pressure. It was very encouraging to see Lankinen look so sharp in his first game with the Nashville Predators, even if it was just a preseason game.

With the plethora of goaltending talent that the Predators have at their disposal, there’s not a ton of ice time to go around with just three exhibition games left. With that in mind, getting Saros a couple periods will suffice, and it will be interesting to see if there’s any rust. Don’t be shocked if there is.

Cody Glass’ final push onto the Nashville Predators opening night roster

All eyes have been on Cody Glass this entire offseason, and rightfully so. He continued his offseason momentum in the 4-0 win with a goal and getting significant playing time with Forsberg and Duchene. A nod from coaches that they want to see what he has in him with NHL talent.

It was on full display that Glass was making the most of having Duchene as one of his linemates by getting into a high danger area to receive a pass and finishing it off with a goal:

I’m hoping to get at least two more games from Glass this preseason so that he can earn himself a roster spot to open the 2022-23 Nashville Predators season. I don’t see anything slowing him down or keeping that from happening.

I’ve said all offseason how impressed I am with Glass and how he handled being sent down last season. He worked his tail off in Milwaukee and made the most of it. Now it’s time for him to be a fulltime NHL player, but he needs to finish strong in his last preseason game or two.

Related Story. 3 Players Who Stood out in Preds Preseason Doubleheader. light

Steady Dose of Askarov

Askarov came into relief duty in the 4-0 win to have a joint effort with Lankinen for the shutout. He made all 12 saves attempted, including one that really stood out on former Nashville Predator Nick Cousins.

Who knows how the Milwaukee logjam at goaltender is going to be sorted out and how many starts Askarov will ultimately get in his first AHL season, but I have to think it’s going to be the majority.

What makes it complicated is what does that mean for Connor Ingram, who surrendered two goals in his preseason outing in the first game of the doubleheader.

I would really like to see Askarov get a start and go the distance in one of the final three preseason games. It would be very enlightening and telling to get a full game tape from Askarov and see how he performs, without just coming in relief.

Give Askarov the start over in Switzerland against SC Bern. It’s a fun exhibition and a unique situation playing internationally, and it would be cool to give Askarov the keys to be between the pipes wire-to-wire to see how he handles it.

Others to Consider….

We didn’t see much from Egor Afanasyev in the 4-3 overtime loss. He just registered 11 minutes of ice time with zero shots on goal.

Afanasyev needs to bounce back and should get at least two of the three games to prove himself. It was always a long shot that he would make the NHL roster out of training camp, but two strong games will keep the chance alive that maybe he sneaks in. Crazier things have happened.

Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter will get at least one more game, but I’m curious to see if Head Coach John Hynes shuffles things around to get a new perspective, or if he doubles down on what everyone expects to be a Nino-Joey line combination along with Philip Tomasino.

Finally, is there anyone else out there who could win themselves a spot on the NHL roster that maybe no one was expecting originally? When thinking about this possibility, Juuso Parssinen definitely comes to mind after he put up a two-point showing in the 4-3 OT loss, including a breakaway goal.

Don’t leave out the thought of a defensive prospect sneaking in. Prospects like Spencer Stastney, Roland McKeown and Kevin Gravel shouldn’t necessarily be overlooked. How do they close out their preseason campaigns will be worth paying attention to.