Winning the Presidents’ Trophy was not the goal for the season. Home ice in the playoff was the focus for the Nashville Predators. They got both.
This is why the Nashville Predators played 82 games. The goal from the moment the 2017 Stanley Cup Final ended was to gain home ice in the playoffs. Along the way, the Predators reached franchise records including 117 points. Earning the Presidents’ Trophy is just icing on the cake.
Looking back at the season, winning the Presidents’ Trophy was necessary. Given the outcome of the NHL regular season, the only option to ensure Game 7 of any series was played at Bridgestone Arena meant being the top team in the league. With Winnipeg earning 114 points, second best in the league, anything less than the #1 overall seed meant road ice tomorrow.
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Now, it all comes down to how the Predators play tomorrow night.
Bringing Sexy Back
First of all, we shall all give thanks for Justin Timberlake. Because of his concert tonight in Nashville, both the Predators and Jets get an extra day of rest. The two days off will help players recover from injuries.
Mike Fisher left Game 6 on Monday night after playing just a couple minutes in the first period. The veteran Fisher did not participate in practice this morning. The fourth line included Scott Hartnell, Calle Jarnkrok, and Ryan Hartman. If there was ever a sandpaper line, this would be it.
Additionally, defenseman Matt Irwin left practice early. Irwin has impressed during the playoffs, providing energy in the defensive zone and not being afraid to push the offense forward.
The player enjoying the extra day the most may be Pekka Rinne. When given time off, Rinne shines.
To win Game 7 means more than just moving forward in the playoffs. In the last 10 postseasons, the eventual Stanley Cup Champion was forced to win a Game 7 during earlier rounds seven times. The last team to win the Cup but not play an extended series was the 2012 Los Angeles Kings. Additionally, four of the last five champions won Game 7 in the Second Round.
It took 82 games, but winning the Presidents’ Trophy proved important.