Autumn seems a long time past in “hockey time” when it comes to the Nashville Predators and their season opener against the Seattle Kraken back on October 14. A Predators team that dropped their opening game 4-3 to the expansion Kraken (giving Seattle their first win in franchise history) doesn’t feel like the same team nowadays with a solid 26-14-3 record since. The Predators are looking not just for two critical points in a tight Central Division but also for revenge for the loss against a Seattle team that has gone 13-24-4 this season.
Seattle has had their share of struggles forming a cohesive team that includes players Mark Giordano, Yanni Gourde, Jordan McCann, and former Predators Calle Jarnkrök and Colin Blackwell. McCann has had the most success, leading the Kraken in points with 24 and in goal scoring with 15 goals on the season. Jordan Eberle is tied with McCann in points with 12 goals and 12 assists. Jarnkrök has struggled to find his former production from Nashville, only logging 7 goals on the season so far but remaining a key component for a team dealing with injuries and illness.
As a team built with a focus on defense, the Kraken have struggled to keep pucks out of their net with a 3.59 goals against/game. Part of that is due to continued issues with defensive breakdowns, and part of that is struggles in net from goaltenders Chris Driedger and Philipp Grubauer. Neither netminder has been able to find a consistent groove between the pipes, although Grubauer logged his third straight win on Sunday night against the formidable Florida Panthers. The Kraken may finally be starting to find the netminding they were counting on when they snagged Grubauer from the Colorado Avalanche.
Sunday night’s win against Florida—the Kraken’s second besting of the Panthers this season—is a good reminder that the Kraken are not a team to be overlooked. While the Predators are a different team than the one who took the ice on October 14 against Seattle, this game could be a challenge if Nashville doesn’t play to their identity.
After a four-game losing streak, Nashville has bounced back to win their last two games with a few adjustments to their play to clean up lapses in the defensive zone and eliminate a hesitation when putting the puck on net. The line of Filip Forsberg, Mikael Granlund, and Matt Duchene has been able to recapture their magic as Forsberg and Duchene recently returned to the lineup from injury/COVID protocol.
All Star goalie Juuse Saros will likely get the start for Nashville, and with a .925 save percentage has been solid in net. Nashville needs to play more disciplined hockey and eliminate trips to the sin bin, not so much because Seattle has a threatening power play (they don’t, sitting at just 16.81%), but because Nashville plays a strong 5v5 game.
Despite the Preds’ statistical advantages, the Seattle Kraken are not a team to be easily overlooked. Hopefully Nashville learned their lesson against the Buffalo Sabres and will come out playing their style of physical, forechecking, defensively-responsible hockey to earn an important two points.
Puck will drop at Climate Pledge Arena at 9:00 PM CT. The game can be viewed on ESPN+ and HULU, and 102.5 The Game will have the radio call.