Playoffs are closing in and 6 teams have clinched a spot. The sixth team to clinch was the Nashville Predators. Let’s take a step back and talk about the key points in the Preds season.
The Nashville Predators are another team that often get stuck in the weird Limbo of Playoff contention. The Preds have made it to playoffs 12 times in their 20 year history but they have yet to lift the Cup. They’ve made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs but have never won it all. It leaves you to wonder, after all this much trials and falling too short, can this be the Preds year to win it?
Let’s go all the way back to the first 10 games. The Preds went 8-2-0 with 35 goals for (4 on the power play and 1 short-handed) and 23 goals against (8 power play and 1 short-handed). The team was flying high off the bet, keeping their cool and creating a strong presence early.
That attitude was crucial to carry through to the half way marker of the season. By 41 games, the Preds had a record of 24-15-2. They had 124 goals for (21 power play and 4 short-handed) with 104 goals against (24 power play and 5 short-handed). Their game was still peaking, they had been maintaining control of the puck more often (53.5% Corsi For) and keeping their place high up in the standings.
Now, the Predators are 77 games in with a record of 43-28-6. The team has scored 224 goals (31 power play and 7 short-handed) and have given up 202 goals against (43 power play and 8 short-handed).
Although they’re still outscoring opponents and winning games, they’ve given up crucial goals. Their power play is at a 12.65% on the conversion with is staggeringly low for a team that is offensively strong. They make up for it with even strength goals and a tough penalty kill.
A clutch player for this team has been 28-year-old defensemen Roman Josi. Josi is in his 8th season in Nashville, with 15 goals and 40 assists in all 77 games. This is a career season for Josi, he’s hit 15 goals only once before in his career and he’ll surely get at least one more goal to push himself to a new career high. With assist, Josi has hit 40 assists twice, his career highest is 47. Josi is a cool-headed player that has amazing speed and puck skills. Roman’s 6’1″ and 201 lbs stature gives him the bonus of being a heavy hitter when he needs to. Josi also has 4 game winning goals this season alone and 15 in his career. Josi has been in the top 10 Norris finals since 2015 and with his performance this season, he’ll see himself high on that list come this off-season.
Viktor Arvidsson is leading the Preds in goals with 31 despite only playing in 53 games this season. Arvidsson is just 25 years old and already making himself a big deal for this Predators team even at just 5’9″ and 180 lbs. He’s a strong player with good control that is essential for this team with their lack of depth scoring. With Arvidsson on the ice, the Preds have a Corsi For percentage of 54.3% meaning that they are in control of the puck more with his help. Overall in this season, Arvidsson has 31 goals and 13 assists for 44 points.
In net, the Preds have 2 strong goaltenders. Leading goaltender Pekka Rinne has a goals against average of 2.48 and a save percentage of .915. Rinne has been a backbone foe this team for years and he continues to amaze with a record of 26-19-4. Even the Preds backup, Juuse Saros, is doing great for this team. Saros has a record of 17-9-2 with a save percentage of .918 and a goals against average of 2.53.
What To Watch
Although this team has been outscoring the opposition, there is only a handful of guys that do the scoring. On the active roster, only 8 players have more than 10 goals this season. Even with assists, only 12 players have more than 10. There is a small list of guys who are getting the puck in and they’re the ones to watch.
As we said before, the teams power play is a struggle but they penalty kill is elite. Their goaltenders are solid and so is their defense to the main goal is simple: get in the goalies head and keep scoring.
As for their chances at the Cup, they have a solid chance. Both times they played Tampa Bay, they blew the Lightning out of the water. They’ve played Calgary 3 times but have only beat them once, 5-3. They just have to hold onto consistency and confidence. I could see them making it to the Stanley Cup finals but will they be able to end their limbo this year?
First To Clinch: Tampa Bay Lightning
Second To Clinch: Calgary Flames
Third To Clinch: San Jose Sharks
Fourth To Clinch: Winnipeg Jets
Fifth To Clinch: Boston Bruins
Sixth To Clinch: Nashville Predators
Featured Image: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Stats From Hockey Reference