Florida Panthers will host Nashville Predators in the first preseason match on Sunday evening. The home side entered playoffs from the 2nd position in the Central Division last season, and they want to secure a knockout stage spot again. The visitors caught the last playoffs train in the Central Division and had a roller-coaster season last time.
Florida Panthers had a poor preseason in 2019/2020, as they went 3-5-1, but they put very good performances when it counted the most. The hosts look forward to another strong campaign and giving it a shot to reach the Stanley Cup finals. On the other hand, the Predators had a 6-1 preseason record last time, and it will be interesting to see them in action after a strange 2020/21 campaign. They want to challenge the post-season spot again, and they are definitely one of the candidates for playoffs.
Florida Panthers – Can they go further than the last time?
The Panthers are back to the Atlantic Division, and they’ll make it tougher for Tampa Bay, Boston, and Toronto to claim the playoffs spot. They head to the new campaign after a 37-14-5 record in the regular season last time. Florida finished second in the Central Division but failed to go further from Round 1. The defending champions eliminated them in six games, leaving the Panthers to hope for a better campaign this time.
The Panthers’ offense was one of the best in the previous season, while their defensive corps highly improved. An early end of the season for Aaron Ekblad impacted the Panthers, and they might have done better with him on the roster against the Lightning. Ekblad had a great individual season before the injury, and if he stays healthy this time, it should be a big boost for the hosts. Sergei Bobrovsky is still around, while Spencer Knight showed he is more than ready to step up.
Expected Line-Up: Sergei Bobrovsky, MacKenzie Weegar, Radko Gudas, Mason Marchment, Aleksander Barkov, Carter Verhaeghe
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Nashville Predators – Will they enter the post-season again?
Nashville had a very bumpy season last time, as it seemed they would slip down from the playoffs zone, especially when Mikael Granlund and Mattias Ekholm were on the block. However, they managed to bounce back and secure the post-season ticket after winning four times in the last five rounds. The Predators eventually finished the regular season with a 31-23-2 record and managed to squeeze into the playoffs. However, the Hurricanes saw them off already in Round 1 in a six-game tie.
Nashville’s roster suffered some significant changes this summer. Ryan Ellis and Viktor Arvidsson are not a part of it anymore, as they were traded away. Although Pekka Rinne retired and one era is over, Jusse Saros played at the top level. If he can repeat the same level of performances, he could bring some good stuff for the Predators. Nashville competes in the Central Division, the one with the biggest uncertainty around how the teams are tiered, and they might secure another post-season participation.
Expected Line-Up: Juuse Saros, Roman Josi, Philippe Myers, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, Eeli Tolvanen
Expert Pick #1 – Florida Panthers to Win ML @+110
It is going to be an interesting matchup, although it is the premier game of the preseason for both teams. Both teams will try to have a solid start in the campaign and raise their form gradually. Although it is too early to make strong assumptions, I’ll go with the Panthers as the first pick.
Expert Pick #2 – Over 5.5 @-110
We could enjoy an efficient clash with Florida being one of the most efficient teams and the visitors being solid in the offense. This will be a good opportunity for both sides to test their offensive corps, and the game could go over a 5.5 margin. Therefore, I’m going to take it as my second bet.
Expert Pick #3 – Florida Panthers +1.5 @-235
Although the Predators will be tough to fight against, those who search for lower odds might try with the Panters on the spreads market. As the offer is not so extensive for the preseason matches, I’ll back the Panthers against the spread and take them as the third pick.