I’ve gone back and forth since the Nashville Predators were swept on how I should feel regarding the fact that the Colorado Avalanche keep dominating throughout the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
We just watched Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final last night, and although the back-to-back champs pushed it to overtime, the Avalanche once again asserted their eliteness in a big way.
Hey, we know how it feels to push the Avalanche to overtime in these playoffs, too. I still haven’t gotten over the letdown of Game 2 when Connor Ingram did everything he could to steal that pivotal game on the road, making 49 saves.
Be that as it may, one thing is certain; the Avalanche got next when it comes to being the new dynasty of the NHL. They’re built to be dominant for the foreseeable future and have Western Conference supremacy, although there are a couple teams who will have a say in that next season.
Spoiler Alert; the Nashville Predators aren’t one of those teams as we sit about a month from what figures to be a rather intriguing free agency.
Have the Avalanche changed your optimism about the Nashville Predators?
So how should we feel as fans of the Nashville Predators while watching the Avalanche do what they’re doing? Should it make us feel better? Would we feel way worse if the Avalanche had been exposed by the Blues or Oilers?
This might be the case pre-2017 when we got a taste of postseason magic and going to the Stanley Cup Final, then the season after that winning the Presidents Trophy, and then the season after that claiming a Central Division title.
But now, in 2022, who cares what other teams are doing? It’s about the Nashville Predators and what they’re doing to get unstuck from this pit of average. This pit of despair is actually a better way to put it.
When General Manager David Poile echoed in the end of season press conference last month that the Predators didn’t have enough to go toe-to-toe with the Avalanche, that was deflating, but also I appreciated the brutal honesty. He also admitted it’s on him for not giving Head Coach John Hynes more to work with on the roster.
How can the Preds change the narrative this offseason?
This all leads me to believe that Poile is going to be aggressive this offseason, whether through free agency or via trades. Either way, he knows with his significant amount of cap space that he has to be a big spender this offseason.
Watching the Avalanche only confirms how wide the gap is between the Predators and the top of the mountain. Not sure that should make anyone feel better at all.
Two months from now we could be singing a much different and more optimistic tune about this gap between the Nashville Predators and the top of the Western Conference, but two things are non-negotiable for that to happen.
For one, re-sign Filip Forsberg. You simply cannot lose him this offseason and remain in this “competitive rebuild” state of mind. Secondly, it’s going to take a bold and risky free agency addition to bolster the offense and speed to hang with so many of these other teams we’ve watched in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Things have changed quickly since the Nashville Predators captured the Presidents Trophy in 2018, and narrowly knocked out some of these same Avalanche players in the first round that year.
I do expect the Lightning to respond in Game 2 and make this a series that goes at least six games, but it’s still the Avalanche’s trophy to lose. They are the team to beat, despite the Lightning being the reigning champs.
There’s no pat on the backs for the Nashville Predators just because the team that beat them is this good. Maybe they would’ve faired better against the Calgary Flames in the first round, but we can’t be living in a world of “what ifs”.
The unfortunate reality is the team got smoked, and the gap feels as wide as the Pacific Ocean between the Nashville Predators and the top of the Western Conference after this year’s playoff showing.