The Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us. Before that happens, let’s pause & look back at what got the Nashville Predators here.
The regular season is over. Now the important stuff is upon us. The Nashville Predators will meet the Colorado Avalanche in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Predators have won their last ten meetings with the Avalanche, but we know that doesn’t matter now.
Do regular season awards matter? Depends who you ask. Most hockey fans will say they don’t…unless their team wins some. Before we dive into the playoffs, let’s take a quick look back at what got us here.
Most Improved Predator: Craig Smith
After Craig Smith had a breakout season in 2013-14 with 24 goals & 28 assists, expectations were high. He went from 52 points that season to 44 in 2014-15, then 37 in 2015-16, & 29 in 2016-17. He was heading the wrong direction if he wanted to maintain his spot on a Predators team that’s adding more viable offensive pieces with each season. A rebound this season was vital for his status, and would certainly be beneficial to the Nashville Predators.
Smith had that rebound and looked like the player that showed such promise four years ago. He ended the season with 25 goals & 26 assists, finishing one point behind that 2013-14 season. He caught fire right after being placed on a line with Kevin Fiala & the newly acquired Kyle Turris. Both Smith & Fiala certainly owe a debt of gratitude to Turris, who facilitated both men having career years. It’s a worthy second line that forms a dangerous top six, & Smith’s shot is a key part of it.