Nashville Predators: Are they Ready for a Brutal 24-Team Postseason?

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators looks on during the game against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on November 1, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators looks on during the game against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on November 1, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images) /

With the recent announcement of the 24-team playoff format, the Nashville Predators will be playing to get in the Round of 16. Are they ready?

By all indications, it appears that the NHL and the NHLPA have agreed in principle to a 24-team playoff format. This means the Nashville Predators could be back to hockey later this summer.

Under this format and if things hold, the Nashville Predators will be participating in a “play-in” series. The winner of that series will possibly play the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

The Predator’s first-round opponent initially looks like it will be the Arizona Coyotes. Even though the Predators were on a tear before the season pause, we have to ask, are they ready for such a task?

Star Players Time To Shine

There have been many discussions during the season and the pause about the production of several of the Predators’ forwards. Three players, in particular, have opportunities to redeem themselves and the Predators team as a whole.

Matt Duchene has had a decent season, but hasn’t played up to his abilities. We can chalk some of that up to being with a new team and a coaching change in his first season with the Predators.

Duchene can use the upcoming playoffs to step up and establish himself as a team leader. All will be forgotten if he comes in and has a positive impact on the team’s postseason play.

Ryan Johansen is in a slump, and he knows it. Insufficient production from will need to be addressed and fixed immediately if the Predators are going to make it past the play-in round, let alone go deep into the playoffs. Johansen has to find his direction.

Viktor Arvidsson hasn’t had a stellar year, either. After coming back from injury, he hasn’t been himself.

Hopefully, Arvidsson has used this time off during the pause to rest, heal, and get himself back into playing shape. The Predators are going to need him in a big way if they’re going to get past Arizona, and most certainly give Vegas any kind of real competition.

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Juuse Or Pekka?

Goaltending has been an issue this season as well.

For the playoffs, goaltending has become an issue of wanting to do what the heart tells you, but listening to your head instead.

First, what does the heart say? It’s understandable to want Pekka Rinne to start and do well in these playoffs.

Rinne’s struggles are well documented this season. There’s only one thing holding him back from going to the Hall Of Fame, and that’s a Stanley Cup.

The window is closing fast on Rinne’s career. Getting him that Stanley Cup should be one of the motivating factors for the entire team.

Help Rinne win and get the worldwide recognition he deserves.

Now, what the head tells you. Juuse Saros was on fire just before the season pause. He elevated his play and eventually took over as the preferred starting goaltender.

Saros needs to start the first game back in the playoffs. You have to give him the nod and see if his hot streak can continue. How long he remains a starter is a question that can’t be answered until that first game or two back.

Does Bridgestone Arena Have The Mojo?

The NHL is actively looking for hub cities to host play-in and playoff games.

Nashville has thrown their name in the hat to be one of those cities. Assuming that the host city’s team gets to stay in their city, will that help or hurt the Predators?

It’s safe to assume that there will be no fans in attendance at these playoff games. That takes away an advantage that the hub city team may have. They’ll also all be staying in hotels, and not be able to travel to other locations.

You can’t help but wonder if just being in Bridgestone Arena could give the Predators a little boost. It is their home ice, fans or no. It is familiar surroundings, and even if they are sequestered in a hotel somewhere, they have the comfort of knowing that their families are near.


The Predators need to see this playoff situation for what it is, a golden opportunity to bring the Stanley Cup to Nashville. Had the Predators played the last 13 games of the season, there’s no guarantee that they would’ve made the playoffs at all.

The Predators’ schedule to finish out the season was tough. In their last 13 games, they were supposed to play Minnesota twice, Colorado twice, Chicago and Arizona, just to mention a few.

Since the Predators were sitting in the second wild-card spot, they would have had to win the majority of the last thirteen and rely on some luck from other teams losing.

Looking back on the schedule now and knowing the struggles the team has had, finishing the regular season would have been a daunting task.

Fortunately, the Predators were surging before the pause. They had managed to sweep St. Louis and Dallas in two separate back to backs. Saros also had a scorching streak going and provided two shutouts in a row against Dallas.

Fast forward to now. The window for this current team to win the Stanley Cup is rapidly closing. This season was supposed to be their time, and it hasn’t worked out as planned.

I’m hopeful that while the team has been apart that they’ve been training as best they could. Im’ also optimistic that the Predators are getting a needed rest to finish the playoffs strong.

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The most important thing they need is the killer focus that it’s going to take to win in this uncertain and unprecedented playoff format. No fans, no real home-ice advantage, sequestered in a city for the games, and away from family for an extended period.

Take all of that into consideration and couple it with the trying times we are in; this may be the most challenging Stanley Cup to win of all time. But this team is full of veterans that should be ready to go.