You can call it “taking care of business” in the season-opening win for the Nashville Predators over the San Jose Sharks on Friday at the NHL Global Series.
Opening up a season on a back-to-back doesn’t happen often, and the Predators will have a difficult challenge in the rematch on Saturday.
Contrary to what the final score indicates, the Sharks came out swinging and had a good chance to take the lead if not for Juuse Saros doing what he does best, which is rob teams of goals.
Round 2 of Nashville Predators vs. San Jose Sharks
In Saturday’s rematch the Nashville Predators will have to be more mindful of staying out of the penalty box, especially early in the game. This nearly allowed the game to swing heavily in the favor of the Sharks.
The Sharks have some worthy players who can burn you on the man advantage, most notably Tomas Hertl. Although the goal came shortly after the power play expired, it was still a product of the Sharks getting a lot of sustained pressure that got the Predators scrambling in front of Saros.
I just don’t see the Sharks beating the Predators when it’s 5-on-5.
We’ll likely see Kevin Lankinen make his regular season debut for the Predators in this one. He had an outstanding preseason, including a 30-save shutout over the Tampa Bay Lightning. In an offseason full of new acquisitions for the Predators, Lankinen gets his first chance to show it was a wise move by the front office to give Saros some help.
Kiefer Sherwood has been a major standout despite not getting much attention as one of the offseason additions. He scored the first goal of 2022-23 on Friday in an elevated role in the top six. Can he continue that momentum into Saturday?
Here’s a look at the hard-working goal from Sherwood to get the Nashville Predators on the board for the first time of 2022-23. Battling for the puck in front of the net, stuff you love to see:
Not sure if we can expect any major lineup changes with the exception of Lankinen. If I’m Head Coach John Hynes, I roll with the same lineup from Friday and try to replicate the dominance that the team showed after the first period.
Perhaps we’ll see a change on the third defensive pairing from Mark Borowiecki to Jeremy Lauzon. Borowiecki got the last minute nod over Lauzon in Friday’s game.
Goals on Friday came from Sherwood, Eeli Tolvanen, Nino Niederreiter and Matt Duchene in garbage time. Ryan Johansen also nearly had a goal on a breakaway, but James Reimer was able to make the clutch denial.
Roman Josi was held off the scoresheet, but don’t expect that to last too long.
On paper the Predators are the vastly superior team, but rematches on back-to-backs are never easy. Expect the Sharks to come out with adjustments, and the Predators have to be ready to do the same.
The Predators beat the Sharks three times last season, and last lost to the Sharks on November 9th, 2019 by a final score of 2-1 in the shootout.
I’ll go with a final score prediction of 4-2 for the Nashville Predators. This game will be close early on before the Predators settle back in, and I have full confidence that Lankinen can turn in a solid performance in his regular season debut.
A 2-0-0 start to the season before coming back home to open their home slate at Bridgestone Arena against the familiar foe Dallas Stars on Thursday will be a good feeling. Play a smart game and don’t be your own worst enemy, and the Predators should snag another win and cap off what has been a memorable trip to Europe for this franchise.