Expectations are soaring as the Nashville Predators look to defend their Western Conference championship. But a lackluster pre-season has fans on edge.
A pre-season record of two wins, three losses, and an overtime loss is not ideal for the Nashville Predators, a team that’s looking to remain in the top tier of the conference. Simply put, we as fans are now spoiled after coming within two wins of hoisting the Stanley Cup.
There’s absolutely no reason to let paranoia creep in as the Predators basically played a very average preseason. However, there’s a lot to be pleased with, if you look past the three losses.
Top Pre-season Performers
While taking a look at who is really coming out of the preseason playing well, you have to start with Kevin Fiala. He has put to bed any doubt about being ready for the regular season after a horrific playoff injury.
Fiala’s preseason numbers are eye-opening, even if they are from games that don’t count. His four goals and two assists are most likely an appetizer to what’s in store for the regular season, and years to come.
Miikka Salomaki also deserves a lot of love for bursting onto everyone’s radar with four goals over the preseason. His penalty shot goal in the pre-season finale against Tampa Bay was as exhilarating of a moment as you can have in an exhibition game. Salomaki’s red hot play has likely earned him a spot on the opening night roster. Here’s a look at penalty shot goal via Thomas Willis of the Predators team website:
Growing Pains Will Happen
A roster undergoing experimentation is the cause of this sub-par record, in my opinion. The fact is the Nashville Predators have a lot of young players playing bigger roles now. To add onto that, a lot of roster changes happened over the offseason. This means it will take time for this team to gel and reach its full potential.
Chemistry is still in the works with the lines on both offense and defense. The loss of veterans James Neal, Colin Wilson and Mike Fisher make things tricky. Luckily, there’s a talented young nucleus that should rise to the occasion. However, it might take time for this group to hit their stride.
We expect another great season out of this team, and rightfully so. The Predators will be in the hunt for another Stanley Cup appearance, but the team will look much different doing it. The biggest difference I expect is how potent this offensive attack will be. The days of having to grind out games 2-1 are over. This current Predators team will be so exciting to watch, for better or worse. The Predators will easily push for the top-five in the NHL in goals per game.
We learned last year that making the playoffs is the top priority. After that, who knows what the Nashville Predators can accomplish. Obviously, a division title or top seed is desirable, but let’s hold off on the negativity after a very average preseason.