On the eve of the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, the Nashville Predators will look to keep pace with the high-powered Florida Panthers offense.
Another difficult test for the new-look Nashville Predators with the NHL Trade Deadline looming tomorrow. They’ll take on a Panthers team that is three points out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
The Predators have fully committed to being sellers by trading four starters in the last week and shifting to a much younger and unproven starting lineup:
A New Era of Hockey for the Nashville Predators
Even though it was in a losing effort on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, I have to say the brand of hockey was fast-paced and exciting to watch.
We saw the highly-anticipated NHL debut of Luke Evangelista, who had the highlight of the night by laying out Evgeni Malkin while also finding some scoring chances with two shots on goal and leading the team in Expected Goals.
The Panthers are an enigma. The fact that they have the realistic possibility of missing the postseason is hard to fathom. They lead the league in Expected Goals for in all situations, while also allowing the sixth-highest Expected Goals Against Per 60 Minutes.
The Predators roasted the Panthers for seven goals less than two weeks ago with Tommy Novak scoring two goals and Roman Josi logging a three-point effort.
Ryan Johansen was also available in that game and posted two points, but since has been ruled out for the season.
This is going to be a tall order for the Predators to sweep the season series over the Panthers. The Predators no longer have Mattias Ekholm, who has also been traded, and their penalty kill has taken hit from all four of the trades they’ve made.
If this turns into a parade to the penalty box, the Panthers could easily end up scoring four or five goals, and I’m not sure the young Nashville Predators will be able to keep up again on the scoreboard like they did on February 18.
Will Filip Forsberg finally be able to return to the lineup? That would be a significant boost to this team’s ability to possibly hang with Florida on the scoreboard.
Forsberg hasn’t played since February 11 and hasn’t scored a goal since January 26.
It’s also the hope that Juuso Parssinen can return to the Predators lineup. He has missed the last two games. He is fifth on the Predators in assists with18 as a rookie.
The Panthers most recently got a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday while puting up 41 shots on goal. They’ve only played three games since the February 18 loss to Nashville.
The 13-year veteran Sergei Bobrovsky is the likely starter for Florida tonight against Nashville. However, in the first meeting Bobrovsky was chased out of the game giving up four goals on 11 shots.
Backup Spencer Knight hasn’t played since that game against Nashville when he came in relief of Bobrovsky.
The Panthers have two important players to their team listed as day-to-day with Sam Bennett (35P in 56 Games) and Aleksander Barkov (50P in 49 Games). Bennett hasn’t played since February 14 and Barkov since February 20.
I can see this game having a lot of open ice and scoring chances. Can the young Predators play loose and free and find ways to finish at the net? That will be key, along with not gifting the Panthers with numerous power plays.