How Far Can These Nashville Predators Go in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Riding a franchise record 17-game point streak, the Predators are in the cusp of returning to the postseason. How far can they go once they get in?

Nashville Predators' Bench
Nashville Predators' Bench / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

It’s March, a time for madness, excitement, and Cinderella runs. While the nation is gripped with basketball, the Nashville Predators are sprinting toward the playoffs.

No one thought that this Predators team was a playoff contender to start the year. After all, they were fresh off a season that saw them trade away several veteran assets, as they entered their “reset” period.

This season has had its ups and downs, but the downs didn’t seem so bad, considering the expectations most had for the team. And the highs, well they were more of a pleasant surprise for the hardened fan, those who stuck with the team, despite the high probability of disappointment, and likelihood of experiencing their fair share of losses.

Nashville Predators Climbed Up from Rock Bottom in mid-February

But we fast forward to the lowest week in the Predators’ 2023-24 season and what can be now seen as the turning point. On Feb. 13 the Predators lost to the New Jersey Devils, in a game that left a lot to be desired, to put it in the kindest way possible. It was a game that forward Cody Glass described as, “unacceptable.” Head Coach Andrew Brunette went further, by saying that his team’s play indicated that they “weren’t going to be that interested to be in the playoffs.”

But the loss was only really ugly to spectators because the 4-2 score didn’t look overly out of place to the casual fan scrolling through the box scores. However, as beaten down as it seemed the Predators and their fans were after the loss, it was about to get much worse, not only for the spectators watching the game, but those perusing the box scores.

As many know – and every Predators fan would like to forget – Nashville was run out of their own building two nights later when they were blasted 9-2 by their division rivals, the Dallas Stars. The team from the Lone Star State came out the gates fast, like really fast, they knocked the Predators down and just kept pilling on.

But as mentioned, most… well let’s be honest, all fans would love nothing more than to forget that fateful game. As painful as the memories are of that night and, in reality, that whole week, it was a fateful event because the Predators headed out on the road where they ripped off the first 5-0 road trip in franchise history. The wins didn’t stop there, as they returned home and continued their winning ways. They strung together eight wins in a row, and they’re currently 15-0-2 since that historic loss.

This leads us to the ultimate question, now that the Predators have sucked us back in: How far can this team go?

Can the Predators Break their 1st-Round Drought Dating Back to 2018?

Well obviously, this is a very tough question. One thing we do know – if the Predators make the playoffs, they’re going as a wild card team. A spot in the division’s top three is likely out of reach, although not impossible, meaning they will have to play the best of the Central or Pacific Division. Those top teams – currently the Vancouver Canucks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and Winnipeg Jets – are there for a reason.

But let’s consider a few scenarios, such as a matchup with the Winnipeg Jets. The Predators have faired well against the Canadian squad so far this season, currently holding a 2-1-0 record in the head-to-head series.

Now, it can be foolish to sit back and use the regular season as a measuring stick for playoff success, but the Predators have never really looked outclassed by the Jets. According to the advanced stats from NHL EDGE, the Predators hold the advantage in zone time for all three areas of the ice.

Brunette’s style certainly centers around maintaining puck possession and when the puck is lost or turned over, retrieve it as quickly as possible. It sounds cliché, but the opposition really cannot score if they don’t have the puck and it’s something the Predators’ bench boss preaches constantly.


The other matchups – Avalanche, Stars, and Canucks – may leave the Predators in a more nervous disposition. They have yet to beat the Canucks this season. They haven’t even looked like they can skate with them this year, being swept in the season series and outscored 13-6.

The Avalanche are true contenders. They have the pieces to represent the West in the Stanley Cup Final again this summer and the Predators have first-hand experience of what it’s like to run into a goliath like Colorado. They have one of the best players in the league in Nathan MacKinnon, who can take over not only a game but an entire series. Pair him with one of the best defensemen, Cale Makar, and a seven-game series would be a massive undertaking for this overachieving Predators team. In a one-game NCAA Tournament-style format, it’s more than possible that the Predators could pull it off, but seven games? Not so much.

A matchup against the Stars would certainly be entertaining. Both teams absolutely despise one another. Removing the 9-2 beatdown, which should now be seen as an anomaly, the Predators have looked every bit capable against the Stars. However, Dallas may have too much firepower in a best-of-seven showdown. The series would be closer than most may think. But you would have to consider what kind of shape, injury wise, the Predators would be in after going back and forth with their Central Division foes.

Preds Still Have Valuable Playoff Experience on this Roster

All that aside, as the saying goes, it’s about the Jimmys and Joes, not the x’s and o’s. The Predators, although young, are not completely inexperienced in the playoffs. They still have Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, Colton Sissons, Ryan O’Reilly, and Gustav Nyquist on their roster.

Forsberg has skated in 75 playoff games, amassing 29 goals, and 53 points. Josi has played in slightly more games, suiting up for 85 postseason contests, notching 11 goals, and 42 points. Sissons, the Game 6 hero from the 2017 Western Conference Final, has played in 65 playoff games. Then finally, let’s not forget that O’Reilly is a Stanly Cup champion, hoisting the ultimate prize with the St. Louis Blues back in the 2018-19 season, where he was also awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy, as the playoff’s most valuable player. The forward his teammates call “The Factor,” has a 25-40-65 stat line in 75 career playoff games.

But all that said, the real key or X-Factor in this whole discussion is the play of goalie Juuse Saros. The Predators go as he goes. It’s no secret that Saros started the season particularly slow. His play was scrutinized by many and the team results were indicative of his performance. But lately, his play has increased immensely. He looks like the All-Star goalie Predators fans are used to, and he seems more than capable of carrying the team.

Looking Back at the 5 Best Regular Seasons in Preds History. dark. Next. Preds

Just qualify for the playoffs and anything can happen. Sometimes it’s not the best teams that achieve success in the postseason, but the ones who get hot at the right time. A hot goalie is what upsets are made of. We saw it last season when the Florida Panthers rode Sergei Bobrovsky all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. The Los Angeles Kings won the cup behind the brilliance of Jonathan Quick in 2012.

Arguably the Predators witnessed it firsthand that same year when they lost in five games to the then Phoenix Coyotes, due to the play of Mike Smith, who finished the series with a .943 save percentage (SV%).

Obviously, no one is uttering Nashville Predators and Cup contender in the same sentence this year, which is fair. But with their mix of talented youth, playoff-experienced veterans, relentless attacking style of play, and a goalie, who when on his game is nothing short of elite, would you, or anyone be surprised if they could sneak out at least a series win? Possibly upsetting a team that actually is considered a cup contender.