The Nashville Predators enter another Game 7, this time against the San Jose Sharks with a chance to go to the Western Conference Finals.
The Nashville Predators have already gone farther in the Stanley Cup Playoffs than ever before in their history but just how far could they go? A win against the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 would put them in the Western Conference Finals for the chance to go to the Stanley Cup Finals.
We sure don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but you have to wonder just how special this team is. They entered the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league but were huge underdogs to the Anaheim Ducks who many picked to go to the Stanley Cup Finals. They dispatched the Ducks and moved on to the Sharks.
They were big underdogs to the Sharks who many thought could go to the Finals after the way they manhandled the Los Angeles Kings. They have come back from two different deficits to tie the series and send it to a Game 7.
Way back in September of last year, GM David Poile had this to say:
There were certainly times during the year that it didn’t look as if that was going to be true. The Nashville Predators went through some rough times and even looked like they may not even qualify for the playoffs.
Then on January 6th, the Predators announced a blockbuster trade for a big missing part when they moved Seth Jones to Columbus for Ryan Johansen. After the trade, in a Press Conference, Poile said this:
"“Today, in my belief, we accomplished something we haven’t been able to do in 18 years of our history, and that’s to acquire a No. 1 center.” – David Poile"
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It took a while to gel but the team got on some record-breaking streaks to right the ship. This is the most balanced, talented team we’ve ever had. While still built around defense, they are solid in all facets of the game. They have a nice mix of veterans and younger players. They’ve even started five rookies in the playoffs.
They have a very special coach. Peter Laviolette knows how to win in the playoffs. He has taken two teams to the Stanley Cup Finals and won one of them. He has a 5-1 record in Game 7’s and a 13-6 record in playoff elimination games. He knows how to inspire and motivate playoff teams.
New Tennessean sportswriter Joe Rexrode, whose stuff I really enjoy had an interesting column this morning about David Poile. In it, he had a couple of great quotes from the team:
David Poile talking about the Arvidsson goal in the last game:
"“You need to get what I call these special plays from your secondary players,” Poile said. “Arvidsson gets the goal and I mean, you could see our team was so happy for him. Happy we won, yes, but happy for him. This guy works so hard every day, there’s nobody who gets physically abused more than he does. That’s probably a different characteristic in the locker room than we’ve had before.”"
Ryan Johansen also spoke about the makeup of this team:
"“Just throughout these games, we’ve had guys in this room make some real character plays,” said Johansen, who at 23 is one of those guys. “Whether it’s (defensive) zone, our goalie, offensive zone, blocking shots. You know, it’s a lot of fun. We haven’t achieved anything, in saying this. And we feel like we have a group that can do something special.”"
For every team that wins a championship, there are defining moments. An incredible overtime win, a comeback from the brink of elimination, beating a team you weren’t supposed to…things this team has done. They have a huge Game 7 coming up against San Jose. That is a great measuring stick of just how special this team might be.
Yesterday a Tweet from Austin Nivison showed up with a reference that Pete Weber had used during his radio broadcast. It seems to especially apply to this Nashville Predators team and struck a chord with us.
Fight one more round. Win one more Game 7. Who knows where it all ends.
The Predators face the San Jose Sharks on Thursday at 8:00 Central time in a defining Game 7. Go Preds!