How Wrong Were the Experts about the Nashville Predators Season?

Apr 26, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators head coach John Hynes talks with his team during a stoppage in overtime against the Calgary Flames at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 26, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators head coach John Hynes talks with his team during a stoppage in overtime against the Calgary Flames at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s always fun and interesting looking back at the preseason predictions at the end of the regular season, and it’s really quite interesting when thinking about the Nashville Predators.

On Tuesday, by virtue of the Vegas Golden Knights losing in a wild shootout to the Dallas Stars, the Predators secured their eighth-consecutive postseason berth. A streak that almost everyone thought would certainly come to an end this season.

After all, the Predators were championing the whole “youth movement”, or retool, or whatever other fancy term you wanted to coin at the time.

Well, they had other plans and that was yet another taste of Stanley Cup playoff hockey for Lower Broadway.

Before we get into what some of the experts and writers predicted about this team, let me first say that the fans seem to have become somewhat numb to just making the playoffs. I wrote about it earlier this month, and it held somewhat true on Tuesday despite it being extremely tense scoreboard watching the Vegas/Dallas game.

How I was wrong about the Nashville Predators this season

I’ll first start with myself and how I was wrong in my original prediction for this Nashville Predators team. Like many, I saw this season back in October as being one that was going to bring plenty of excitement with younger players like Philip Tomasino, Eeli Tolvanen, Alexandre Carrier and Tanner Jeannot all looking to be mainstays in the lineup.

This part has thankfully come true as it has been a truly exciting season to remember thanks to the aforementioned players who are all 25 and younger. They delivered on that, especially Jeannot as he’s hung around in the Calder Trophy debate unexpectedly.

The end result of the Nashville Predators sneaking into the playoffs in the last week of the regular season isn’t really that surprising even looking back on my original preseason expectations. However, the way they’ve achieved this is what’s been surprising to virtually everyone.

How about this doozy I wrote following the October loss to the New York Rangers that sent the Predators to a 1-3-0 start on the season:

"“As bad as this stings to start off the season with very little offensive production, this start shouldn’t come as any surprise. The Predators are a transitioning team that has very little room for error against the majority of NHL opponents.”"

The regular season had just started and the Predators opened up looking predictably limited offensively. My overall thought on this team was they’d be lucky to compete with the upper tier of NHL teams to eventually sneak into the playoffs.

When I wrote about the October schedule following the season-opening loss to the Seattle Kraken, I had very little hope for a successful showing:

"“This is going to really test just where the Predators stand in the Western Conference. Are they as mediocre as the preseason projections suggest they are, or can they notch a few upsets over this portion of the schedule?”"

My expectations about this team in the preseason was that sneaking into a wildcard spot, which they have indeed done, was mildly possible if Juuse Saros can have another high-caliber season, and the top stars of this team step up. That all has mostly happened, I just didn’t expect it to all fall into place so perfectly.

Think about it for a second; for the Nashville Predators to narrowly get into the playoffs with a wildcard position, it took insanely career-best seasons from so many players including Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene.

Heck, that’s not even to say that all of the rookies on this team have contributed in big ways as role players, and you also can’t overlook the increased goal production that Ryan Johansen has given them.

Johansen’s 24 goals is third-most in his career, and the most by far in his Predators career.

So the point is, barely making it via the wildcard isn’t what’s surprising and how I was wrong. However, I’d be lying to you worse than a used car salesman if I said I saw it coming the way it did with all these players having career years scoring.

The national narrative was Preds were missing playoffs

Now let’s shift to the broader, more national focus of this team. The pundits that follow this team from the outside looking in, and to their credit have to follow the entire league so it’s much more difficult for them to make preseason predictions.

Let me first be clear that I’m not trying to throw shade at any of these fine publications or analysts who made these predictions. We’re all wrong in a lot of ways when we look back at our preseason predictions, and that’s what makes it so fun.

The preseason picks from the writing staff pegged the Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche and New York Islanders as favorites for the Stanley Cup. Hey, one out of three isn’t bad if you’re playing baseball.

None of the staff writers had the Nashville Predators finishing in a wildcard spot. That’s right, zero out of the 16 writers polled had the Nashville Predators even clawing their way to a wildcard. The Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks, Seattle Kraken and even Chicago Blackhawks did get predicted, however.

Again, no harm no fould. It’s a tough business predicting.

Next. Best Individual Playoff Performances in Preds History. dark

Next let’s go to ESPN and get more narrow in their predictions as their writers went with NHL Award predictions. I think you know where this is going.

Roman Josi got zero predictions from the 22 analysts on who would win the Norris Trophy. Cale Makar got a lot love, predictably, but that not a single person threw Josi in there is kind of laughable now considering the historical season he’s had that goes hand-in-hand with why the Nashville Predators have indeed secured a wildcard spot.

We’re not going to blame anyone for failing to predict Jeannot in the Calder Trophy race, because that would just be a low blow on my part.

Finally, let’s turn our attention to NBC Sports and their original preseason predictions for the Central Division. They all had the Nashville Predators finishing in seventh place in the division, only ahead of the low-hanging fruit Arizona Coyotes.

Really? I mean, we knew the Predators were young and would have serious challenges to make the playoffs, but seventh? Big swing and a miss there. There wasn’t even much of a mention of the Predators in their writings, but plenty of intrigue over Chicago.

Trending. What the Juuse Saros Injury Means for Preds Postseason. light

Ultimatley the Predators have made it all come together with their superstars of the team like Josi, Forsberg and Duchene. But it shouldn’t stop with them. If you watch this team closely, you know how vital players like Jeannot, Tomasino, Granlund, Carrier, Johansen and Sissons have been, too.

In the end, the Predators really proved the vast majority of us wrong, and they’ll have to do it again in the playoffs. No one is going to pick them to get by Colorado or Calgary in the first round, and that’s perfectly understandable.