Four Questions the Nashville Predators Have to Answer for October

Sep 25, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Nashville Predators head coach Andrew Brunette looks on from the bench against the Florida Panthers during the third period at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Nashville Predators head coach Andrew Brunette looks on from the bench against the Florida Panthers during the third period at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

The wait for hockey is almost over. As life without Nashville Predators hockey finally comes to a close, we have questions that we’re eager to get answered.

With nine regular season games in October, we’ll have a sample size that might leave us with more questions, but can be the start of some interesting trends for the rest of the season.

Here’s a four-pack of questions that we want to see answered to start the season.

Question 1: Can the Nashville Predators Skate Up To Brunette’s Style?

For a long time, the Predators have been all about defensive hockey, winning close games, and riding strong goaltending. Brunette will be pushing an up-tempo offense that is less about positions and more about players.

They Predators are going to rely on their skills and creativity to push the pace and play faster. It is a mandate that comes from General Manager Barry Trotz, who made it clear in his coaching search that he wanted to play faster. That leaves us with questions about how the new style will jive with the roster.

Now, his offseason acquisitions don’t exactly match. Luke Schenn isn’t exactly known for his quickness (he’s strong on his feet though), Ryan O’Reilly and Gustav Nyquist are 32 and 34 respectively, and while talented, aren’t likely to win any team competitions for fastest skater.

The youth movement should help increase the team’s overall speed, but if the team isn’t executing things aren’t going to look good. We’ll see if the Predators can hold up to the coach’s style, or if the adjustments come quickly.

The Predators’ first five games will be against opponents who made the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs; Tampa Bay Lightning, Seattle Kraken, Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers.

Question 2: How Many Starts Will the Predators Give Saros?

It is well established that Juuse Saros is one of the best in the business at tending goals. He’s going to get the majority of the starts in the net.

In the last two seasons, Saros has gotten 67 and 63 starts. It is probably a good idea to mix in some rest any time possible. It will be tempting though to stick with Saros if the Predators go on a winning streak as well.

Questions always buzz around about what to do with hot goalies and heavy schedules.

Related Story. Ranking the Predators' One-Two Goalie Punch with Saros & Lankinen. light

Looking at the schedule, there are six games in the first two weeks of the season. Thinking of where to set up Kevin Lankinen for success, the October 21st game home game against the San Jose Sharks, one of last season’s bottom-dwelling teams, makes sense. A start there, after five in a row for Saros should be a good pace.

Overall we’ll see if Lankinen can equal his 18 starts from last year, and continue to question if he holds off Yaroslav Askarov.

Question 3: Will Luke Schenn Stick on the Predators Top Pair?

Roman Josi is a lock for 25 minutes a night. Nobody else on the Predators has ever averaged that much ice time. The question is who will be with Josi for the majority of that time when playing 5 on 5?

Luke Schenn figures to get the first crack at being Josi’s running mate. Part defensive security blanket, part on-ice cop, Schenn will hang back and let Josi join the offense, and make sure that he avoids undue physical punishment.

Now this may result in Schenn taking penalties, as well as sacrificing some offensive zone ability.

There are also some questions concerning whether or not Schenn can handle the rigor of a top role at this stage in his career. If Schenn struggles to keep up with top pair assignments we might see a few different pairings in the first month, or some rotating partners for Josi based on the on-ice situation.

We’ll see how the first month of games play out in the audition to be Roman Josi’s partner.

Question 4: Will the Predators Start Seven Defenseman?

The Predators’ forward lines are pretty well set. The four lines should serve rather well in the coming month. Questions do remain concerning the defense corps.

The defense is still up in the air even with the season bearing down on us.  We’ve talked a few times about the Fabbro vs. Lauzon debate, but we might see both of them to open the month.

If a firm decision can’t be made, it might suit the Predators well to suit up 11 forwards for the first few games and let the defense fight out it amongst themselves in the regular season.

Alexandre Carrier has his contract sure, but he doesn’t want to fall into the sixth spot and be vaulted by Lauzon and Fabbro and become a trade throw-i

Next. Unpacking the Predators' Waiver Claim of Samuel Fagemo. dark

Regardless of who wins the job, the Predators have to get all their defenders some playing time and keep the rotation moving. If they need to move a depth defender at the deadline or throw in an NHL-caliber player to sweeten the deal in an arms race, one who has been active will be looked on more favorably.

The questions we need answers to is who will it be, and who will emerge as the lineup fixture.

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