Game Preview: Nashville Predators @ Seattle Kraken 11/8/22

Can the Preds finally build some momentum against a red-hot Kraken team?

The Nashville Predators’ tour of the Pacific Northwest continues tonight. The Preds head to the Emerald City for a date against the surprisingly hot Seattle Kraken.

The Preds are coming off an eventful 4-3 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night. The Kraken are in the midst of a four-game winning streak, the longest in franchise history, thanks to their 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night.

Given last year’s games against the Kraken, Preds fans will likely be a little on edge for this one. So, how can our Smashville heroes walk away with a win tonight?

Three Things To Watch For

1.) Momentum... Please

A couple of weeks back, the Preds beat the St. Louis Blues 6-2. They followed that up with two lackluster performances against the Capitals and Oilers. They then got back on track with a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames, arguably their best all-around performance of the season. They then followed that with a showing against the Canucks that, while it ended with a win, didn’t exactly inspire calls that “the Preds are back.”

Simply put, the Preds just haven’t been able to string together consistent performances to save their lives this season.

No one’s expecting any NHL team to have 82 A+ games each season. But eventually, your well-played games are going to need to outnumber your bad games if you want any shot of being in the playoff conversation. Ideally, that trend starts tonight against a decent Kraken team. A complete 60-minute game where the Predators control the bulk of the play and earn the majority of quality chances should help boost confidence in this team moving forward, regardless of the final score.

2.) All Eyes on the Lineup

Lineup strife has long been a tradition in Smashville, dating back to the days of wondering why Andrew Brunette was on the third line in 1999. Sure enough, the unfortunate mix of the Preds’ cold start and debate over how some of the younger players are being used has made the lineup announcements appointment viewing on Twitter before each game.

Sure enough, tonight’s game should provide some intrigue as well. The Predators completely shuffled the deck midway through the Canucks game, with players like Mark Jankowski and Zach Sanford being bumped up to bigger roles, while Cole Smith and Michael McCarron saw their ice time cut after less-than-stellar performances. Given John Hynes’s penchant for keeping players like Cody Glass or Eeli Tolvanen on short leashes after so-so games, there will naturally be plenty of fans who hope to see the latter two in the lineup to prove their worth.

Another intriguing question is what’s happening on the blueline. Alexandre Carrier and Dante Fabbro have each been scratched in recent games, while the reigning AHL Defenseman of the Year, Jordan Gross, has featured prominently, especially on the Preds’ power play. It’s unlikely Hynes will keep either Carrier or Fabbro on the shelf for long, but considering Gross is coming off a two-goal game and Jeremy Lauzon has been a valuable piece on the Preds’ solid PK unit, who comes out is anyone’s guess.

3.) A tale of two blue-chippers

On the Seattle side, a lot of the discussion league-wide centers on a pair of Kraken rookies, Shane Wright and Matty Beniers.

On one hand, Kraken fans are chomping at the bit to see what Wright can do. The one-time consensus top prospect in the 2022 draft shockingly fell to Seattle at the #4 spot, and many assumed the still-building Kraken would elevate him to a big role right away. However, Wright has struggled to find meaningful playing time this season. He’s appeared in just 7 of the Kraken’s 13 games this season, and he’s seen fewer than nine minutes of ice time in all but one of those games. The debate in Seattle is centered on whether Wright simply isn’t ready for a meaningful NHL role or whether coach Dave Hakstol is treating him with kid gloves. But either way, don’t expect to see much of Seattle’s top 2022 draft pick tonight.

The same cannot be said for the Kraken’s 2021 top pick, Matty Beniers. The 20-year-old has been an absolute stud since arriving in the NHL at the end of last season, with 18 points in 23 career games. Beniers plays with the IQ of a player well beyond his age, and is on track to becoming one of the league’s most exciting centers, and alongside Jaden Schwartz — Seattle’s points-leader — the Preds’ defense will have their hands full when that line is on the ice.

How to Watch

Puck Drop: 9 P.M. CST
Radio: 102.5 The Game