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Kraken host Predators: Game Preview

One by land or two by sea?

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Nashville Predators v Seattle Kraken Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

The Need to Knows

The Time: 7pm PT

The Place: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, WA

Place to Watch: TNT

Place to Listen: KJR-FM 93.3

Know Your Enemy

It’s a battle of mythical beasts. Though swept by the eventual Cup champs, the Nashville Predators were a playoff team last season, and have been identified as one of the clubs the Kraken will need to overtake if they want the honor of playing post-season hockey in 2022-23. At this early juncture, that looks like an achievable goal. The Preds have a losing record, a negative goal differential, and sit eleventh in the Western Conference.

Filip Forsberg drives the Preds’ offense, a consistent scorer over the course of his career who managed 42 last season, in only 69 games. He’s supported by other talents like current scoring leader Nino Niederreiter (5 goals in 2022-23) and Matt Duchene, who out-produced even Forsberg last year, scoring 43.

On defense, the Predators have had a succession of supreme talents over the years, currently including Roman Josi, who, in a parallel universe where Cale Makar doesn’t exist, was a shoe in for the Norris trophy last season. His 96 points were absurd production from the back end and it’s no surprise there’s been regression so far this season (on pace for 52). Personally I blame the arrival of Jeremy Lauzon in Music City.

Nashville Predators v Seattle Kraken Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

In net, Juuse Saros also looks like something cough Lauzon cough has changed. He tallied 38 wins and a .918 goals against average in 2021-22, but has only two wins in eight starts in 2022-23. Backup Kevin Lankinen has looked better (2-1-0, .933) but over a much smaller span. Let’s hope Saros gets the nod against the Kraken.

A little more on the Preds

If you haven’t heard about Section 303, you should give it a google. The Coles Notes go something like this:

When the expansion franchise in Nashville came into being, three fans got season seats in the nosebleeds, and decided to create a bit of excitement. They printed out a number of cheers for certain key moments over the course of the game (goals, penalties, etc.) and handed them out to their section-mates at each of the first few home games. With enough manufactured momentum, the chants caught on, and nowadays any regular attendee of home games knows what to say and when.

I’d love it if Seattle found a similar way to differentiate things at Climate Pledge Arena, either through enterprising fans, or even if the team seeds it in some way (printed cheers worked once!). Kraken fans are already boisterous but with a little creative direction the game day experience could be even better.

NHL: NOV 05 Kraken at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Seattle is rolling, on the longest winning streak in franchise history, and Nashville is there for the taking. I don’t think this is the sort of game that ends 2-1, so the home club better put on their scoring hats and get to work early. After all, the Vegas Golden Knights, and first in the division, are only 6 standings points ahead.