Nashville Predators: Qualifying Round Getting Closer, Uncertainty Remains

Craig Smith #15 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Craig Smith #15 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Another step was taken towards playoff hockey today. The Nashville Predators may now have a date for the qualifying round of the 2020 NHL Playoffs.

It’s been known now for quite a while that the Nashville Predators not only made it into the qualifying round of the NHL playoffs as the No.6 seed in the West, but have also known that the opponent will be the Arizona Coyotes.

We were excited about the NHL’s June 8 announcement that teams were permitted to enter into “Phase 2” of the Return to Play plan. Teams were allowed to start having small, voluntary practices with no more than six players on the ice at a time.

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Not many players elected in this endeavor event though the option was on the table. Many players stayed in their respective home cities at first. But now things seem to really be coming into fruition.

On June 11, we received more good news from the NHL. If medical and safety precautions allow, teams will be holding their training camps beginning on July 10.

On June 20, more critical news came out about dates that were only hinted at in the NHL’s past announcements.

We have an official date everyone

Per The New York Posts’ Larry Brooks, an official announcement came stating that the qualifying round of the 2020 NHL playoffs will begin on July 30.

This was big news that everyone was waiting to finally hear about. Until an official date was dropped, it all seemed like a fantasy that an NHL postseason was actually still going to happen.

The timeline outlined in Brooks’ article is as follows:

  • Training Camps begin on July 10.
  • Teams will travel to their respective hub cities on July 23 or July 24.
  • Teams will participate in one exhibition game upon arrival in their hub city.
  • Qualifying Round and Seeding Round begins on July 30.

This announcement presents a lot of information to unpack as it pertains to the Predators. It’s known from a recent interview with Predators captain Roman Josi that the ten players that have remained in Nashville have been getting some ice time in small groups.

In that same interview, we heard that  players who didn’t remain in Nashville have been conducting individual workouts similar to what they would do before a regular preseason training camp.

The planned timeline allows for a two-week training camp for the Predators and all other NHL teams.

This training camp will be a golden opportunity for Coach John Hynes to implement even more of his playing philosophies and strategies that he hasn’t been able to tackle since he took over as head coach mid-season.

After the two-week training camp and travel to the hub city, the Predators will have one exhibition game to iron out any issues that come up in training camp. One exhibition game is not optimal due to the importance of the qualifying round that happens soon after, but all qualifying teams are in the same boat.

After the exhibition game is completed, the Predators will begin the strangest playoffs in the history of the NHL. It has been a long road to get us to this point with long stretches with no news. Things are now moving at a fast pace, but uncertainty remains.

Tread lightly upon hearing this news and the upcoming developments. We understand that in this ever-changing pandemic that things could change quickly and derail the plans that the NHL has set forth.

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The recent announcement that the Tampa Bay Lightning have three players who tested positive for COVID-19 is alarming and not what we need to hear at this time.

The big hope is that everything goes smoothly and that the Predators will begin their quest for their first Stanley Cup on July 30.