It has been 147 days since Nashville experienced an unexpected end to the 2017-2018 season. I’m still not over. I’m still mad about it.
Yes, the Predators were President’s Trophy winners which is awarded to the team with the best record in the regular season. Which would be okay if the season ended in April.
Central Division champions. Nice.
Expectations were high last season but failed at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
For the first time, my wife and I watched all or portions of every game the Predators’ games last season so it was painful to see them fail to win the Stanley Cup. Home ice turned out to be a disadvantage in the playoffs at the Predators were 3-4. Then to watch former Preds coach Barry Trotz take the Washington Capitals to the promised land was just another salt in the wound. My fellow Preds fans loved it and cheered him on. Not me.
The Nashville Predators once again begin another NHL season with high expectations. Two hockey “experts” pick the Predators to fulfill the expectations and win the cup. I’d like to believe it but I’m not quite ready to embrace it.
Let me begin with my apprehension about the new season. First, let’s talk about Pekka Rinne. Most Predators’ fans are in denial about Rinne. Shockingly Rinne was named the Vezina Trophy winner which is awarded to the season’s best goaltender. I will say that in the REGULAR season he was pretty good as he posted a record of 42-13-4 with a Goals Against Average (GAA) of 2.31 but he fell apart in the playoffs with a dismal 7-6 record and a horrific 3.07 GAA. Don’t get me wrong, I want Rinne to do well but my feeling is that he will be a liability this season and will be a glaring weakness to hopes for a Cup. His partner, Juuse Saros, played well last year and should be ready to take over if he is called upon. I hate to say this but Rinne chokes when it counts the most. This season is the time for him to come through for the franchise.
P.K. Subban. Here’s another concern. Everybody in Smashville adores Subban. While he is known for his defense, he has too many lapses at times which makes life difficult for Nashville netminders. He’s another that tends to fail when you need him the most. Is he really the defenseman people think he is?
One thing that the Predators lost in the playoffs was scoring from their top line. Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen did their part but Kevin Fiala, Kyle Turris and Mike Fisher combined for only four goals in the postseason. When facing teams like the Winnipeg Jets, the Predators needed offense. Fisher, who came out of retirement last season, decided to retire for good in the offseason.
The Predators will open the season without two key players in the lineup as forward Ryan Hartman has been placed on injured reserve and forward Austin Watson will be serving a 37-game suspension due to a domestic abuse incident in the offseason.
The Predators have a chance to do something special. It’s a long season ahead. There is no question that the team has the talent and depth to bring home Nashville’s first professional sports trophy in June it’s just a matter if they can come through in the clutch moments in the postseason. Notching the best record in the regular season means nothing. It’s nice but without a Cup residing in Bridgestone with it, nothing else will matter.
The Predators open the season tonight in New York against the Rangers.