Three Main Keys to Victory for Nashville Predators against Kraken

Seattle Kraken goaltender Joey Daccord (35) makes a save on a shot by Nashville Predators right wing Luke Evangelista (77) in the shootout at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Seattle Kraken goaltender Joey Daccord (35) makes a save on a shot by Nashville Predators right wing Luke Evangelista (77) in the shootout at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators fell 5-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in their season opener on Tuesday, and it was a rollercoaster of a game. They came out incredibly flat and got dominated in the first period, which was understandable given the team they were against and all of the changes that the Predators endured in the offseason.

As the game wore on, the Predators found their footing and will now look to carry that over into their home-opener against the Seattle Kraken. A team they went 1-2-0 against last while getting outscored 13-5.

Kiefer Sherwood scored in the lone win for Nashville over Seattle last season, while Philip Tomasino got the game-winner in the shootout.

While it was quite a bummer to come out on the losing end of the 2023-24 opener against the Lightning, we still have to remember how new this squad is and that it will be far from perfect for awhile. Can they rebound tonight against a deep Kraken team that also lost their season-opener on Tuesday?

Nashville Predators must eliminate the penalties

I’m sure everyone reading is wondering how many more times they have to hear about the theme of the Predators hurting themselves with penalties. It has been going on and on for years now, and it was one of the reasons why John Hynes ultimately got let go as head coach.

It feels like we can hardly have any hope that the problem gets fixed, but now that there is a new head coach, it makes sense to look at it as correctable. And despite the volume of penalties, it was not like it was something that was a problem at every part of the game.

Four of the six occurred in a span of 10:05 near the beginning of the third period, which even for this team’s standards, is super unusual. Two of the six were also committed by Roman Josi, and while he undoubtedly has to be better as captain, you also have to trust that he will not make that a theme, with as great of a player as he is.

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The high-sticking penalty called on Jeremy Lauzon was an embellishment by the opposition, and the delay-of-game by Philip Tomasino was another that falls into the category of being a fluke, even by this team’s standards.

None of this is to make excuses or imply that the Predators should not worry about the penalties, but show that they are legitimately fixable. Three of the four third period goals for the Lightning were a direct result of penalties, with the other being the empty-netter, so if they make the theoretically easy fixes, it could be extremely impactful.

The Predators should be encouraged that they can correct this area on Thursday and will get some benefit of the doubt given the circumstances around the team. But they of course have to prove it, otherwise even the penalties that seemed like flukes from the other night will be recognized as part of a bigger issue.

Keep the offense going

As I keep harping on, this is a virtually brand new team so as lenient as we should be with some of the problems, we should not get overly excited about the positives until they are proven. That being said, one of the expected strengths under Head Coach Andrew Brunette was supposed to be offense, and Tuesday showed that it might just be.

The top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan O’Reilly, and Juuso Parssinen was buzzing and was responsible for two beautiful goals at even strength. They looked very strong in the preseason, and to see the entire trio get involved was such a good sign that they can live up to expectations and be legitimately dangerous.

Tommy Novak also picked up right where he left off last season and got on the scoreboard with a laser of a wrist shot on the powerplay. I mean, it was a thing of beauty, and also encouraging that the power play could look effective and get results early on.

The Predators will look to get even more offense from some of their other skilled forwards such as Cody Glass, and they will also hope that the line of Philip Tomasino, Novak, and Luke Evangelista will produce, as they were the most lethal in training camp.

But for a team that has not only been known to lack offense, but not get enough from their star forwards, seeing the offense on Tuesday was a breath of fresh air.

There is good reason to hope that everyone and more could light it up tonight in Nashville.

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Play an effective 200-foot game

Not only was this area needing to be greatly improved under Brunette, it is also particularly key in this matchup against the Kraken. They are a team that did really well last year by playing with speed, and it helped them push the Dallas Stars to seven games in the second round.

What is potentially worse news for the Predators is that the Kraken lost in their own season opener on Tuesday and looked a step slower than usual. Some might assume that they are not quite the same as they used to be, but the more likely scenario is that they come out angry and motivated to bounce back from their previous showing.

The Kraken went 0-for-4 on the power play in their loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, but did managed 33 shots on goal.

The Predators can expect to have their hands full, especially because they are a much newer team against one that is the same and just went far into the playoffs. But this also is an opportunity for them to show that they can play the way Brunette’s system demands of them.

Everyone loves to talk about the offensive aspect of his coaching style, but the defensive aspect is just as important. Skating fast in order to prevent opposing goals was a staple of the Florida Panthers when they had Brunette, so the Predators cannot get slow or tired anywhere on the ice or else it will be a long night for them.