The time has come once again to stand with the Nashville Predators as playoff hockey nears. It’s been a challenging road that might still end with a Stanley Cup.
Before I start off, I want to say welcome back to hockey everyone, but more importantly welcome back to Nashville Predators hockey.
It has truly been a trying time over the months, and I myself have pushed everything hockey away. The ice is finally freezing up though, and the revamped NHL playoffs are quickly approaching.
The spirit of Smashville is one that is at high intensity and relentless. With the abrupt ending of the regular season and so many questions left unanswered, it was frustrating to stay positive when all momentum had ceased.
We are back however, and I am calling on all Predators fans to stand back up and support the team. They need it now more than ever, even if the fans can’t be there in person.
All the way up
The Nashville Predators, under new head coach John Hynes, ended the regular season battling over a wild card spot with teams like Minnesota, Winnipeg, Arizona and others.
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The season was back and forth with no real consistency, and at times I was uncertain of them even being a playoff team, let alone a Stanley Cup team.
Momentum started picking up, however, as the team was starting to build structure under Hynes, and top line players started producing up to their capabilities.
Back-to-back wins over St.Louis, and extracting revenge on Dallas after a brutal Winter Classic defeat had me sold on believing that Nashville does have the talent to win in the playoffs. The team ended on a rolling train that was headed for a playoff spot.
With so many changes throughout this year and a team that was battle-tested through a rough regular season, I took a look at the odds for the Predators to actually move forward successfully through these upcoming playoffs.
Fighting for the finish
The Predators had multiple months off before finally getting into training camp less than a week ago. With strength and conditioning tough to come by during the pause, it’s hard to tell what the team will look like when they take to the ice.
The team is finally getting to practice together again, and rebuilding chemistry has to be a part of that. Getting the team together as a unit, and revisiting plays and tactics that Hynes had just started to plant throughout the team is going to be tough.
Luckily the team has some great veteran leaders such as Roman Josi, who can help get the team refocused during training camp.
This hasn’t just happened to the Predators though, every other NHL team has undergone the same treatment. We can only hope that this break will benefit a team like the Predators who have a lot of valuable veteran playoff experience.
Moments like this is where the team really needs support from the key players, and the veterans need to really set the tone for the younger players. In fact, look for some key players such as Josi, Ryan Ellis, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson to speed up the game some, and keep the others in check.
It’s been what feels like an eternity, but hockey is back folks. The Predators need their fans now more than ever. This will be an all out dogfight, and the problem is that this is uncharted waters for the NHL as a whole.
No matter what, the Predators will need their fans, even if it’s through social media support and delivering big viewership ratings when the games begin in the qualifying round against the Arizona Coyotes on August 2.