After I wrote an article called “What’s wrong with the Nashville Predators“, the team pulled off a big win immediately afterward. In that article, I picked out three major problems plaguing the team. Here, I’ll look to see if those things improved.
Mark Jankowski was the AHL call up after Kiefer Sherwood was sent down. He was leading the Admirals in points with a stat line of 5-4-9. The team definitely called up their biggest offense producer, so the question really fell to how he would be deployed. Many assumed he’d take that open spot on the 2nd line wing. However, when the lines were announced, a different story came out:
#Preds lines vs. CGY:— Emma Lingan (@emma_lingan) November 4, 2022
Forsberg – Granlund- Duchene
Niederreiter – Johansen – Sanford
Trenin – Sissons – Jeannot
Smith – Jankowski – McCarron
Josi – Gross
Ekholm – Carrier
McDonagh – Lauzon
Scratches: Glass, Fabbro
Jankowski would slot in at 4th line center between Cole Smith and Michael McCarron. This was not the most promising of situations. However, Jankowski was able to strike first, stepping onto the ice, driving to slot, and pounding home a rebound to put the Predators up 1-0. The first line returned back to the classic set up from last season along with the 3rd line staying with the Herd Line.
That mystery 2nd line winger turned out to be Zach Sanford. Sanford, contrary to what many assume, has been a fairly bright spot on the ice and has looked good. No, he’s not piling on goals, but he’s playing competent hockey. He even looked extremely good at the end of the game when Calgary emptied their net, blocking several shots at point blank range.
The first line? Well, I’ll get to that later.
The Predator Identity (or lack thereof)
Plain and simple, the Predators stifled Calgary’s offense in the first period. They only allowed 3 shots on goal. Every red jersey had a Preds player plastered to it. The biggest difference I noticed was that any time one of the Flames got behind Lankinen, someone was on them fast and hard. Clean passes from behind the net were the nails in the Preds’ coffin Tuesday against Edmonton. Against Calgary, no one had a chance to go behind the net with possession and have a fair chance to make a clean pass. The team also looked good in transition. Sure, Calgary was able to get more and more shots as the game went on, but a lot of those shots came on the power play. At 5-on-5, the Preds had the neutral zone locked down.
It wasn’t a total shutdown defensive scenario, but the Preds were playing much more like we’ve been used to seeing them.
I said before that the top guys needed to be the top guys and the top guys delivered. Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene each had a goal and an assist. Roman Josi had a goal. Mikael Granlund had an assist. Aside from Jankowski’s goal, the top guys were involved in every aspect of the rest of the scoring. They played strong defensively as well.
Again, this wasn’t a victorious return to form, but the product on the ice looked a lot more like what we’re used to than what we’ve seen recently. Up next, the team will face the Canucks and the Kraken. Strong showings against both teams would go a long way toward proving that Predators rough start was just a rough start.
–featured image via Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports–