Earlier this week I took a look at some of the early NHL predictions and focused on where the Nashville Predators will finish the 2013 NHL season in a piece called NHL Power Rankings: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly. If the title doesn’t give it away, the takeaway was that nobody can agree on whether the Predators are going to have their breakout year or finally debut that Hindenburg impression everyone’s been talking up for years.
More rankings pieces are beginning to roll in now. It seems that complete and utter confusion as to the what fate holds in store for the Preds is going to be a thing as long as writers still have time to file these predictions. One thing is sure, though: those who think the Preds will be bad think they’re going to be very, very bad. But guess what? There’s at least one prominent hockey writer who thinks they’re going to be very, very good.
Latest NHL Predictions For The Nashville Predators
Kevin Allen has been USA Today’s hockey writer since 1986, so he has seen what the Nashville Predators look like when they’re bad. He doesn’t think this year’s squad qualifies. He’s convinced that Shea Weber is going to step up and show the hockey world that he means business, bringing Nashville its first Central Division title. This is something I haven’t seen mentioned very much. Everybody likes to talk about how Shea Weber is a leader and a unique, world-class talent; few put those points together and come to the conclusion that, as the team captain, Weber can be the glue that holds that contender together – even if there’s not another $100-million defenseman on his pairing. Mr. Allen, I like the way you think.
Harrison Mooney says that Weber will have to have a Norris-worthy season for the Preds to make the playoffs. The big difference between Mooney and Kevin Allen is that Mooney doesn’t see this happening. He also thinks the reduced workload will benefit Pekka Rinne – but apparently that won’t be enough for a team that depends on its goaltender to do so much. Mooney only has the Preds finishing ahead of Columbus in the Central, and not because it’s such a tough division.
The Hockey Writers
Fred Poulin plays the “no big acquisitions in the off-season” card and says Nashville’s defense is “very thin” behind Weber. (Sorry, Kevin Klein and Scott Hannan!) He also says the team doesn’t have enough scoring punch, last year’s 9th-ranked offense be damned. Among those he projects to finish ahead of Nashville: Edmonton, Colorado, Dallas, and Anaheim. Ouch.