Nashville Predators & Milwaukee Admirals Finding Ways To Win

Apr 6, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Tommy Novak (82) gets the puck past Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen (31) before it is stopped on the goal line during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Tommy Novak (82) gets the puck past Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen (31) before it is stopped on the goal line during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
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Finding ways to win has been the theme of the Nashville Predators and their AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals.

During the 2022-23 campaign, there have been 15 skaters who have played on both teams and been valuable assets when called upon. As far as defensemen go the Nashville Predators have utilized 14 this season.

College free agent Jake Livingstone made his debut against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night marking the 14th defenseman used by the organization this season.

The former Minnesota State Maverick logged 16:08 in his NHL debut skating alongside veteran Tyson Barrie who was acquired in part of the Mattias Ekholm trade in March from the Edmonton Oilers.

“I wanted to help this team & be a part of this playoff push. Hopefully, we can finish it on the road in the next two games. It’s meaningful hockey not just your first game but it’s also getting close to the playoffs,” Livingstone said.

One skater has seen it all & played in every game this season in Milwaukee, that being captain Cole Schneider. He leads the Admirals in scoring with 48 points and 10 powerplay goals.

“I’ve been playing in this league a long time and that’s probably up there with the most I’ve seen,” Schneider said of the Nashville Predator’s call ups this season. “You want to see your buddies get up there & we’re happy for them but we still gotta do our job here too & Karl has done a good job.”

Overall the skaters who have worn a gold sweater have been instrumental pieces to Nashville’s roster in lieu of pushing for the final playoff spot. Tommy Novak leads the Predators scoring 41 points since being recalled from Milwaukee.

“When I first met Novak I think it surprised me a little bit, but then once you got a game with him you realize the kid is special,” Schneider said of Novak’s play. “Sometimes you think he’s gonna get crushed and you’re like ‘oh no I gotta fight for him’ somehow he gets away — he’s a slippery guy and makes plays everywhere.”

When looking at Nashville’s five of 10 top scorers since Feb. 1, the Predators are getting the best deal they could have dreamed of. Five skaters are making no more than $875,000 & contributing in a huge way.

Skaters currently listed on the Nashville Predator’s roster who have played in both the NHL & AHL this season have contributed a combined total of 122 points. At the same time, Milwaukee has maintained its course no thanks to Head Coach Karl Taylor.

“I think he manages the players in the room pretty well & makes the game plan based off of who’s in the room & we’ve done a good job playing with his game plan,” Schneider said.

At the same time as well veterans have been chasing a postseason berth with the Admirals. However, another added role is molding Nashville’s prospects into eventual everyday NHLers.

“That’s a big part of the older guys in this league & at this point in my career I want to help those guys get to Nashville & be good when they get there,” Schneider said. “You see guys like Novak & Evangelista come up and been playing well so that’s good to see. At the end of the year, we got a few more young prospects come in so you’re trying to set them up for the future too.”

After Livingstone and Spencer Stastney debuted this week the Nashville Predators have now seen six rookies take their hot lap making their debuts at the NHL level.

Injuries have contributed to the rookies getting their opportunity, but now Nashville is north of 200+ games missed. Most recently it’s been Matt Duchene, Jeremy Lauzon, Roman Josi, and Alexandre Carrier who went down.

Now as of April 8, Milwaukee finds themselves two points behind the Texas Stars for the Central Division lead with the postseason in sight.

The Admirals have not won a Calder Cup since 2004 and despite losing players to the NHL Taylor and his coaching staff, along with some seasoned veterans, have created a prime opportunity to pounce on a championship run.

“A couple of years ago we were the best team in the league and unfortunately got shut down,” Schneider said. “Earlier in the year we had another 15 guys down here. We were putting up touchdowns all the time, so right now we’re just finding different ways to win than we were before and we’re going to try to keep it going.”

Nashville is on the cusp of the 2023 NHL playoffs as well. A win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday puts the Predators in the second Wild Card spot with 90 points and three games remaining to play.

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A win over the Calgary Flames stands in the way as well. If the Nashville Predators were to win out the rest of the season they would have 96 points which in theory clinches their ninth consecutive playoff berth.

One game at a time has been the recurring theme for a team that has an average age of 26. Juuse Saros has backstopped at an elite level and has 43.4 goals saved above expected, but the fate of the team is in everyone’s hands at both levels.