Where: Climate Pledge Arena
When: Wednesday, March 2, 2022; 7:00pm PST
Wait, who are we playing? Landlubber’s Guide to the Nashville Predators
Local TV: none
National TV: TNT
Local Radio: 950 AM KJR
SiriusXM: Channel 91
Last Time Out
On the Preds’ first visit to Climate Pledge Arena, not only did the Kraken manage to escape the first five minutes without allowing a goal, they actually scored first! Jared McCann hammered home a one-timer on a two-man advantage nine minutes into the first period to give Seattle a 1-0 lead.
The game was back and forth from there, with Seattle finally relinquishing the lead late in the second period, giving up back-to-back tallies in under a two minute span. Ultimately Nashville goaltender Juuse Saros was the difference, making 33 saves and keeping his team in it long enough to secure the victory. Final score: 4-2 Predators.
Stats, Streaks, & Droughts
Nashville is in a tight playoff race with the Minnesota Wild at present, both teams battling for the third divisional slot. Right now the Predators are relegated to the wild card race, but they have a three point edge on their Western Conference rivals Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers. To say Nashville is streaky is an understatement: since the holiday break their results have been lost two, won five, lost four, won three, lost four, and so on. They’re playing just under .500 hockey of late, with a 4-5-1 record in their last 10 outings. The key appears to be goals for: when they score at least four — and they do that a fair bit — they win; otherwise they lose.
That’s going to be an issue for the Kraken, who give up four goals with alarming frequency — five times in the last 10 games, not to put too fine a point on it. Sunday’s loss to the basement-race rival San Jose Sharks drops Seattle’s record to 16-34-5, 2-7-1 in the last 10, which includes seven straight without a win. The Kraken are averaging two goals-for in that 10-game stretch; it should go without saying that their offensive output must improve substantially if they are to have any chance against Nashville or any other playoff contenders.
Players To Watch
Nashville center Matt Duchene is rebounding from a couple of under-performing campaigns. He has 23 goals and as many assists for 46 points in 49 games this season, much more in line with his $8 million salary...
Filip Forsberg is on a tear of late, with 3+2=5 in his last five games. He leads the Preds in goals with 27, including this one that put him at the 200-goal mark in late January...
Then the other $8 million man, Ryan Johansen, is also having a decent year with 13 goals to go with 24 assists. His most recent claim to fame doesn’t show up on the scoreboard, however...
On the back end is offensive defenseman Roman Josi, currently leading Nashville in assists with 39...
...and the plus-minus leader on the team, Alexandre Carrier, who has an (*ahem*) interesting method for freezing the puck:
Injuries, Illnesses, Additions, & Scratches
Nashville comes into tonight’s tilt well rested and almost totally healthy. There is nobody in COVID-19 protocol or on LTIR, and the only player on Injured Reserve is forward Nick Cousins. Defenseman Alexandre Carrier is not on IR, but is nursing several small injuries and is doubtful for tonight. Starting goaltender Juuse Saros has carried most of the load this season — when your backup is David Rittich, you have to — and is expected to get the call in net.
For the Kraken, no change as of this writing. Brandon Tanev remains out until next season; we saw Jared McCann, Jaden Schwartz, and Karson Kuhlman on the ice before and after practice both Monday and Tuesday, but there is still no timeline for any of them returning. Still no players on LTIR or COVID-19 protocol for Seattle. Netminder Philipp Grubauer was absent from practice on Monday, but that was just a rest day — he was back on the ice on Tuesday and is expected to get his fourth straight start tonight.
Odds & Ends
- In case you missed it in the ‘Coverage’ section above, TNT has the monopoly on the broadcast tonight. No ROOT Sports, and no streaming on ESPN+.
- As noted above, Nashville just hosted their first outdoor game, as a rink was erected inside Nissan Stadium — home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans — for a tilt between the Predators and the Tampa Bay Lightning. A sellout crowd of 68,619 made it the 6th largest live audience for an NHL game. Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Brayden Point all scored goals in a 3-2 Lightning victory.
- Former Predator Calle Järnkrok is firing on all cylinders right now, with 5 points in the last 9 games (3G, 2A). He did not dress for the Kraken’s first game against his former club back in October (COVID-19 protocol), and was held without a point while logging 3 shots on goal in the most recent meeting. All signs point to him scoring his first goal against the Preds this evening.
- Still no movement on the trade front, with rumors continuing to swirl that Mark Giordano will be in a Maple Leafs uniform sooner rather than later. Other possible rentals include the aforementioned Calle Järnkrok as well as Marcus Johansson; it’s likely that Seattle GM Ron Francis was fielding a deluge of calls on Jared McCann, but his addition to the Injured Reserve list likely shut off that spigot.
- Seattle was active in the free agent market on Tuesday, which was the first day that over-age, undrafted Junior players could be signed by NHL clubs. The Kraken signed 20-year-old center Tye Kartye, who had attended Seattle’s training camp as a free-agent invitee last fall. The three-year, entry-level contract takes effect in the 2022-23 season. Kartye has 58 points in 45 games this season for the Soo Greyhounds, a team which produced another NHL-caliber player you might be familiar with — Ron Francis.