The Nashville Predators are set to take on the 2022-23 President’s Trophy winners, the Boston Bruins, Saturday night at TD Garden. The lineups for these two teams look significantly different than they did just one season ago.
On the Predators side, there is no Matt Duchene, Mattias Ekholm, Mikael Granlund, Tanner Jeannot, or Ryan Johansen. For the Bruins, some of the major pieces they lost were Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Bertuzzi, Nick Foligno, Taylor Hall, and David Krejci.
Last season, the Predators went 1-1-0 against the Bruins, winning on the road and losing in front of the home crowd at Bridgestone Arena. While the lineups will look different, one thing is certain, the Nashville Predators will have their work cut out for them to defeat a top notch goaltender for the Bruins.
Jeremy Swayman has been confirmed by Daily Faceoff to be the starter against the Predators on Saturday. It will be his 2023-24 season debut after Linus Ullmark got the starter in the opener.
There are three players that really need to answer the call in this West vs. East showdown.
Key Player #1: Saros Will have to do Saros Things
Coming off an impressive 3-0 shutout win against the Seattle Kraken in their home opener, Juuse Saros looked very sharp.
Although very sample sized so far, in two games Saros has a 2.05 GAA and .929 save percentage. Typically, the Finnish netminder struggles in the first ten games of the season and coming off a 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning I was afraid that the trend would continue.
Saros seems to have righted the ship quickly though turning aside all 23 shots he faced on Thursday night in Smashville. Going from not having his first shutout of the 2022-23 season till early January to having one in his second start is a good sign for Predators fans.
The Predators are going to need Saros to be ready when the puck drops if they want a chance for back-to-back wins. Going up against Swayman, who had a rock solid 2.20 GAA in 33 starts last season, Saros will have to be equally impressive.
Saros has faced the Bruins five times throughout his career and holds a 2-2-1 record. He boasts a .927 save percentage and 2.61 goals against average in those five outings.
Last season, the Predators surrendered 66 shots on goal in two games against the Bruins. I would expect Saros to have to make somewhere around 35 saves in order to get back-to-back victories and the first road win of 2023-24.
Key Player #2: Josi Needs to Show Up on the Scorecard, in a Good Way
The Nashville Predators captain, Roman Josi, is another one that I will have my eye on Saturday night.
Being fairly quiet in the first two games having zero points and only five shots on goal while averaging 24:28 minutes per game, is not what Josi is known for. Not only has he not found the scoresheet in a good way yet, Josi also has taken two minor penalties.
One thing is certain, this is not the Josi that Predators fans know and not the Josi that this organization entrusts with a “C” on his chest. I look for Josi to start putting some points on the scoresheet and pucks in the back of the net real soon.
The past two seasons combined, Josi has averaged 1.06 points per game. A solid defenseman that is also known for his scoring ability, has got to be frustrated about his performance thus far.
Now granted, we are only two games into this grueling 82-game season and there is plenty of time for Josi to turn things around. I think that time starts against the Boston Bruins Saturday night.
Key Player #3: Forsberg Still Looking for His First Goal of the Season
The last key player to this matchup is Filip Forsberg. While he does only have two assists on the season, he not only leads the team, but is tied for first in the NHL in shots on goal with 11. Tied with Connor Bedard and Reilly Smith.
Forsberg has always been known as a “streaky” type of player and if he can get a goal early against the Bruins, there’s a good chance that more will follow. He has a total of 24 shot attempts already so it is not for lack of trying as to why he has been blanked in the goal column.
Nashville has appeared to settle on their top line of Ryan O’Reilly, Juuso Parssinen and Forsberg. It has been one of the most productive lines on offense through the first couple games of the NHL season.
Head Coach Andrew Brunette’s fast paced, offensive minded gameplan is one that should suit Forsberg well.
Being fast usually means drawing more penalties and time on the man advantage, combine that with shot like the one that Forsberg has, if he is given the opportunity, he will find a way to get the puck in the back of the net.
A pretty even all-time series between the Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins. A head-to-head record of 15 wins, 16 losses, one tie and three overtime losses for Nashville. Although the scoring margin heavily favors Boston, 101 to 80.