3 essential elements of the game | Kraken (39-24-7) in Predators (35-26-8) | five pm

Time: 5:00 pm (Pacific Time) | Look: ROOT SPORTS | Hear: 93.3 KJR

One: don’t underestimate predators

Nashville began the season hoping to make the playoffs. Since then, future former general manager David Poile became a “seller” at the trade deadline because he thought the Predators’ playoff chances were slim. Probably with input from Nashville head coach and future general manager Barry Trotz, Poile sent D Mattias Ekholm to Edmonton, F Nino Niederreiter to Winnipeg, F Tanner Jeannot to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and F Mikael Granlund to Pittsburgh for the juniors. NHL players, prospects and draft picks.

Even so, the team responded by playing better and fell just five points away from the second wild card spot currently held by Winnipeg. Both Seattle games are mandatory for the Predators. Nashville has one game left against the Kraken and three against the Jets. Veteran forwards Filip Forsberg (he and his 19 goals in 50 games could return for Thursday’s game) and Ryan Johansen have been on the disabled list, so Poile called up several AHL reinforcements, while coach John Hynes increased the ice time for many of the younger ones. players

For example, second-string center Luke Evangelista has scored five goals in 11 NHL games this season after leading the league in assists for AHL Milwaukee. He had a two-goal, two-assist night in Monday’s win over Buffalo. Lineman Tommy Novak, who has been on the ice the longest, has responded with five goals and four assists in his last seven games. And, just to drive home the point of not taking Nashville lightly, goaltender Juuse Saros is on pace with a career-high .917 save percentage and has posted 27 wins. Before Tuesday’s game, Yanni Gourde he made it clear that he and his teammates know to think of the remaining games on the schedule as “playoff games” as well.

Two: Josi vs. Dunn

In Tuesday’s road win, Dallas defenseman Miro Heiskanen extended his point streak to 11 games while vince dunnThe 12 game point streak is over, though the Kraken D-man doesn’t care about the streak given the importance of getting two points in the standings. Even so, it was the first time in NHL history that two defensemen with double-digit scoring streaks met in one game.

Nashville defenseman Roman Josi won the Norris Trophy for the league’s best defenseman in 2020 and many NHL watchers believe he was not voted the same way last summer after turning out a 23-goal 2021-22 season. 73 assists for 96 points. Going into the skids Thursday morning, Josi is listed as “day to day” with an upper body injury. Like Dunn leading the Kraken in scoring (13 G, 44 A, 57 points), Josi leads all Nashville players with 18 goals and 41 assists for 59 points. The assumption here is that Josi plays. It’s desperate time for Nashville.

Three: Matty Beniers and the Calder Trophy

Dallas fans and the Stars front office are no doubt excited about the potential for 19-year-old center Wyatt Johnston to make a late-season bid to be named NHL Rookie of the Year. Johnston has 21 goals on the season, including five in his last five games and six in his last seven. Picked 23rd overall in the same 2021 draft as Matty Beniers, he added 21 assists for a total of 36 points.

Beniers has accumulated 19 goals and 30 assists for 49 points. Both rookies contribute on power plays (Beniers has 4W, 5A while Johnston has 2W, 4A) but Beniers’ play in all zones is elite beyond that. A few examples: Beniers has won some penalty times recently and made some solid plays with Yanni Gourde in the penalty area on Tuesday.

Beniers has been routinely taking and winning matchups in the defensive zone, plus the Kraken coaches trust him to be on the ice protecting leads in the final minutes. Beniers has 45 blocked shots to Johnston’s 29. His defensive work against veteran forwards shows in every game, from his physical play to lifting sticks to avoid Kraken’s net shots to his 49 serves compared to Johnston’s 40. Beniers’ average time on ice per game is 17:05, while Johnston’s is 15:25.