It was a wild ride that lasted longer than we thought it would, but the Nashville Predators were finally eliminated from contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs after the Winnipeg Jets won 3-1 over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
With both the Predators and Jets having two games remaining, it would take no more points from the Jets and two wins for the Predators to pull off the unthinkable.
On Monday, the Predators kept their playoff hopes alive for at least one more day after taking out the Calgary Flames in a shootout and removing them from the playoff race.
So hey, at least we can say we were the first team out in the West, right? In all seriousness, there’s a lot to be proud of and hopeful for that they made it this far.
High Optimism Surrounding Nashville Predators Despite Missing Playoffs
The Nashville Predators will wrap up their 2022-23 campaign with homes games against the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild. The Avalanche will be playing with the Central Division title on the line, while the Wild are most likely locked into the No.3 spot in the division.
Much of the team has been made up of AHL players, which has really made this playoff push so incredible to watch. With the NHL regular season nearly over, the playoff bound Milwaukee Admirals will get a huge boost to their roster as they get some key players back that have been playing significant minutes for the Predators.
This marks the first time the Nashville Predators won’t be participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since Barry Trotz’s last season as head coach, which was 2013-14. Also the last time the Predators finished below 90 points in the standings, excluding the pandemic and lockout shortened seasons.
The injury front is still unclear, but I wouldn’t expect to see Roman Josi, Matt Duchene or Alexandre Carrier return. It’s been said that Josi might be getting closer to returning to action, but I don’t see the point in rushing him back now.
If I’m the Nashville Predators, I’m rolling with the same lineup that they went with on Monday against Calgary. Let the young playmakers get two more games of NHL action before returning to the AHL for their playoff run with Milwaukee.
Let’s see if Tommy Novak can cap off his 2022-23 run with the Nashville Predators by moving into the top-three on the team in points. Who saw that coming before the season started?
Novak has 41 points in just 49 games. He didn’t make his season debut until mid-December.
We’ll also see Juuse Saros get at least one more start to try to further boost his chances at getting his second-straight Vezina Trophy nomination. Hopefully he can finish strong.
There were so many surprises, some good and some bad, surrounding the 2022-23 Nashville Predators. It definitely didn’t go how anyone could have predicted.
The injuries were ultimately too much to overcome, despite the valiant effort from young, unproven players in their absences. The offense couldn’t sustain enough goal support, and Josi’s was probably the hardest to overcome after being injured on March 18.
But you really have to keep things in perspective. Would we rather be getting another meaningless first round playoff exit and uncertainty for the future, or should we be extremely optimistic about what we got to see in players like Cody Glass, Luke Evangelista and Tommy Novak getting their opportunities and delivering at a high level.
I think we all take the latter, unequivocally. A few low-scoring losses down the stretch were the difference between this team full of AHL players qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That deserves a ton of attention around the NHL.
The schedule was unforgiving over the last couple of weeks, as well. All to say, it took up until Game No.80 for them to finally be put away. Just ask Flames fans how they’re feeling, a team with no excuses.
Overall, despite missing the playoffs, you have to be pleased with how this team responded and didn’t just fold. They responded to the adversity and gave us optimism that if this is a rebuild, it won’t be a long, painful one.