We’re seeing a lot of things to be encouraged by after the Nashville Predators blanked the Tampa Bay Lightning for their second-straight preseason shutout.
You have to be careful not to overreact over preseason wins, but with that in mind, back-to-back shutouts against two different teams who had plenty of their star players playing is still impressive.
The Predators’ latest shutout win in the preseason was more meaningful than other preseason games because you saw some core players really take control of the game.
Starting first with goaltender Kevin Lankinen, who has completely secured the backup role to Juuse Saros, as if there was ever really any doubt.
Lankinen now has 43 saves combined over his two games this preseason, including a 30-save performance against some of the best players the Tampa Bay Lightning have to offer in Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Victor Hedman.
Some Preseason Wins Mean More Than Others
This is an extremely encouraging result, because regardless of if the game actually counts in the grand scheme of things, seeing your new goaltender put up 30 saves in something you can hang your hat on.
“I like the way, where this team is going. They want to win, I want to win too. I’m really motivated to win. Obviously, they’ve done a really good job over the years developing goalies. Taking golies to the next level”. Kevin Lankinen on wanting to win with Preds
Lankinen told the team’s official website recently how much he wants to win right now, and he how feels the team as a whole has that same mindset.
A motivated backup goaltender can be a great valuable weapon for any team that’s going through the 82-game grind. Having a one-two punch at goaltender will win you a lot of games.
To circle back to the 30-save shutout over a Lightning team with plenty of their top players, it is very significant despite it just being a preseason game.
Another encouraging result from this 2-0 win over the Lightning is seeing another game where Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Johansen are building a quick bond that’s going to give the Nashville Predators two top forward lines that will be difficult for opponents to deal with.
Niederreiter scored his first goal in a Predators uniform, with Johansen having the assist. Johansen returning the favor to Neiderreiter, who had the primary assists on Johansen’s goal against the Panthers.
We also saw Roman Josi for the first time this preseason, logging 24:38 of ice time and registering two shots on goal. It was just awesome to see the captain back in action after nearly hitting 100 points last season, turning the NHL world on its head:
John Leanord tallied the other goal for the Predators to extend the lead to 2-0 late in the 3rd period. Roland McKeown tallied the assist as he continues to have a productive preseason.
Leonard was acquired in the Luke Kunin trade over the offseason and is expected to be a roster bubble player as he has 58 games of NHL experience with the San Jose Sharks.
McKeown, a 26-year-old prospect drafted back in 2014 by the LA Kings, was added to the prospect mix as a free agent over the offseason and has a lot of AHL experience as he’ll likely get a lot of time with the Milwaukee Admirals.
This game was a very competitive one. The box score is very even in terms of shots, hits, and both special teams units failing to tally on their respective power plays. This is a good measuring stick preseason game as the regular season is now just a week away.
What to Expect in Last Two Preseason Games for Nashville Predators
With two games left before they games start counting for real, I think we’ve seen what we want to see from the veterans who are going to be the core of this team. We’ll see a few of them a little bit more, but now it’s time to give the bulk of the ice time to your younger players and prospects trying to get all of the valuable reps they can before going to their respective clubs for this upcoming season.
The Predators and Lightning will play again on Friday evening, and we should expect to see some combination of Yaroslav Askarov, Connor Igram or Devin Cooley. Tomas Vomacka hasn’t seen preseason action yet this year.
We also still haven’t seen Juuse Saros this preseason, so let’s see if he gets maybe half a game just to shake some rust off. He hasn’t played in a game since April 26.
A steady dose of players on the bubble of the roster is what we should see on Friday against Tampa, and again overseas against SC Bern.
There’s no reason to risk injury to some vital players on this team like Josi, Niederreiter, or Johansen even more. We’ll probably see Filip Forsberg one more time, and maybe Mikael Granlund will make his first appearance of the preseason.
Overall, this entire offseason preparation from rookie camp, the prospect showcase, and three preseason games has to have coaches very pleased with where this team is at.