In 2014-15, the underdog Predators were once shining bright, golden bright. They were at the top of the mountain, standing high and pushing anyone down who came near them. It seemed like they were not coming down anytime soon.
But something happened.
At the start of the 2015-16 season, they fell down, evidently lacking their former motivation, passion, and aggressiveness.They tumbled uncontrollably, and no one knew why. Something had to be done before they hit rock bottom. Fortunately. the heroic Filip Forsberg stepped up and produced two hat tricks within a week in mid-February; everything started to become familiar again.
Since then, the Predators returned to being the NHL’s best. They’ve secured a playoff spot after many had written them off as non-playoff contenders. Apparently, Peter Laviolette, Predators’ head coach, sparked something in these guys, leading them to the NHL’s best record in February-March.
Now, with just three games remaining, the Predators are charging into the NHL Playoffs on a positive momentum swing. They’ll battle the Anaheim Ducks or Los Angeles Kings in round one.
Facing the Ducks could be great news for Predators’ fans. Nashville won the season series with Anaheim, winning two out of the three games played against them. Their latest win over the Ducks came in November, with a final score of 3-2. That was one of Nashville goalie’s Pekka Rinne’s best games of the season.
On the other hand, facing the Kings might be a challenge. The Predators are 1-2 against Los Angeles this season. Nashville seemed to struggle in the two losses with the Kings, but finally took control during their dominating run. Rinne started in that win. which ended with a 5-2 score.
Regardless of these possibilities, Nashville fans have reason to rejoice because they don’t have to witness their team fall into the wrath of the defending NHL Champions, Chicago Blackhawks, in the first round like last year. However, the first round should be the least of Smashville’s worries.
Nashville has another shot at making history. The Predators have never advanced past the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs in franchise history, which only has four rounds.The Predators have solid consistency from the right guys, including Shea Weber, who has been the captain he’s known for being.
Roman Josi is just dishing assists like it’s the law. He has a franchise-high 43 this season. James Neal has 30 goals this season, which is a team high, and marks the second time in his career achieving that milestone.
Let’s not forget about Ryan Johansen, who has been on fire as a Predator since the trade. His only shootout goals of the season were as a Predator.
Everyone’s doing their part. That means their playoff chances heavily relies on the veteran goalie Pekka Rinne. When he is at his best, the team wins. When he’s average, the team loses.
He’s 32-21-10 this season as Nashville’s goalie. He’s been pretty consistent, although he’s had a few rough patches at times.
Many NHL analyst says he seems to be hitting that “wall” as a goalie, which most goalies run into around his age (33). This season, he has a 90% save percentage, allowing just 2.4 goals a game on average. If he can stay consistent throughout the playoffs, the Predators will create franchise history and shock everyone by gliding right through the first two rounds.
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