With the calendar now turned, 2014 brings some burning questions for the Nashville Predators.
The start of the new year often marks a natural time for any NHL team to pause and reflect on what they’ve accomplished in the last three months of the season.
For the Predators it has been a crazy series of winning and losing streaks, offensive outbursts and defensive meltdowns, big steps forward and tough tumbles backward.
The team from Music City stands at 18-18-4 (40 points), seventh in the Central Division and nine points out of a wild card playoff spot.
But coming off two of their most dramatic (and perhaps impressive) wins of the year, optimism is at an all-time high for the Preds.
Will it continue in 2014?
The top five questions that will be answered in the new year:
- How soon will Pekka Rinne return from injury and will he play at a high level when he does come back?
- Can the Predators receive consistent scoring from their top three lines and rise from the cellar of goals scored in the Western Conference (95 goals to date)?
- Will one (or two) of the teams in the Central Division falter over the next four months; enough for Nashville to catch them in the standings?
- Is Nashville a buyer or seller at the trading deadline?
- Does the current coaching staff remaining intact if things turn south over the next four months?
It will be very interesting to see how the storylines develop for the Preds over the remaining 42 games of the 2013-14 season.
During the first 40 contests, there have been flashes that have shown Nashville could very well be a better team then its current record shows. The return of Rinne, plus added consistency on the offensive end, could very likely make the Preds a team that sneaks into the playoffs in the spring.
Should be a fun one to watch. Happy new year to all.