The first Saturday night back in Smashville for the 2023/24 season consisted of a showing that all Predators fans have been waiting for from new head coach Andrew Brunette.
The 5-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks showed what Brunette has been working on with his players, and showed just how much his system has helped this team develop.
Samuel Fagemo played his first game in Nashville Predators gold, and certainly put on quite the show. His first shift consisted of an exciting early chance from a pass by captain Roman Josi, and he later capitalized with a power play goal early in the first period, tallying his first goal with the Predators.
With center Cody Glass being out 7-10 days with a knee injury, Fagemo ended up in the lineup last night, and made quite the impression around the Predators community, quickly earning the approval of the fans and the coaching staff.
Fagemo Provides a Spark for Nashville Predators in Team Debut
We learned all about Fagemo’s famous shot when the Predators picked him up off of waivers from Los Angeles, but something that really stood out to me about his play was his quick movement in and out of defenders in the neutral and offensive zones. He was able to creatively weave between several different players, creating great chances not only for himself, but for his new line mates Colton Sissons and Gus Nyquist.
What really stood out the most in this game was the dominant performance of the Sherwood-Novak-Evangelista line. Right from the first drop of the puck, this line came out buzzing.
The line was able to score twice in just 12 seconds, one goal coming from Novak and the other from Sherwood.
Evangelista even tallied his first goal of the season with a stretch pass from Dante Fabbro late in the third period. Because of the rapid improvement of this line, the question of whether or not Philip Tomasino should rejoin Evangelista and Novak becomes a lot harder to answer.
Sherwood seemed to fit in a lot better with the pair, and it raises the question on where Tomasino would fit back in if he is ever placed back in the lineup.
After two successful games, the question also stands about whether or not Tomasino has earned a spot over Fagemo and Michael McCarron.
In my opinion, Tomasino was not given as fair of a shot as McCarron and Fagemo, as Nashville as a team was still trying to adjust to the new playing style, and the teams they were facing were a lot faster and more aggressive. Regardless of when Tomasino makes his return to the lineup, it might be time for Brunette to consider a major line change for the young forward.
After this game, something that the Predators need to make sure that they continue working on is their continued momentum. During the third period, they allowed the Sharks to score on Juuse Saros, as their passing became weaker and their zone exits were sloppy.
They settled into their lead and allowed the Sharks to gain some momentum before stepping it back up with a goal from Evangelista after breaking Saros’ shutout.
This is something that Brunette should want to pay attention to, as this cannot happen against better opponents that can quickly take advantage of their lack of energy late in a game.
Something that Nashville Predators fans can all take a sigh of relief about is Juuse Saros’ performance. He seems as sharp as ever between the pipes, so we can most likely expect another fantastic season from him.
Although the team will want to make sure that the pressure on Saros is significantly less than last season, it is good to know that their goalie is going to be able to bail them out when they need it.
In regards to the goaltending, the defense around Saros looked really great against the Sharks. They were aggressive on the forecheck and were quick with their transitions out of the defensive zone, allowing for little passing and scoring chances for San Jose in the offensive zone.
Overall, it seems that Brunette’s coaching and playing systems are finally starting to settle in for the players, and it has created a really fun and entertaining style of hockey for all Predators fans to watch. We can definitely expect a lot more fast paced games such as this one, and hopefully they will have similar results.