Before I begin, yes I do watch sports other than football. I won’t preview and recap all the games that my baseball, basketball, and hockey teams play. There’s just too many. But I will analyze select games and draw my conclusions about how these teams are doing thus far.
Onto the subject of this post. The Nashville Predators are an expansion team with a bad record in the playoffs. For instance, after winning the first round over the Ducks and forcing a game 7 against San Jose last season, we proceeded to do an epic choke job in a “win or go home” game to decide who went to the Western Conference Finals. Nonetheless, many expect the Predators to be Stanley Cut contenders. Why?
For starters we still have top-tier goaltender Pekka Rinne for a while longer. Rising star wingman Filip Forsberg is only beginning to gel. Rising star center Ryan Johansen is only beginning to gel and has an entire offseason to get comfortable with this team (we traded Seth Jones for him in the middle of last season).
And then there’s P.K. Subban. Possibly the best defenseman in the game and younger than then the guy we traded for him. Sports analysts have wondered why the Montreal Canadiens would trade him for an aging star. Theories of racism, distaste for Subban’s showboating (Forsberg does that already so our organization is used to it), scapegoating for a poor Montreal season, and so on.Whatever the reason, we definitely got the sweet end of this deal. Don’t get me wrong, Weber was the #2 icon on the team behind Rinne, but Subban is probably a top ten player. He has an ability to take the puck away and get it into enemy territory that should make our already lethal defensive play better than ever! Not to mention Peter Laviolette’s knowledge of crafty ways to use defensemen to score goals. We weren’t starved for points as we have a tendency to not let those turnovers go to waste.
A team that includes Subban, Rinne, Johansen, Forsberg, along with perfectly competent others like Roman Josi, James Neal, Ryan Ellis, and Mike Fisher is, on paper, very hard to beat. One Sports Illustrated writer went so far as to Compare Nashville to the Golden State Warriors.
Do I believe the hype? Based on the roster, yes. But again, Nashville’s done some amazing choke jobs in the past. I’m not looking too high before the season’s even started.
At any rate, the first test comes very soon when we play our archrivals, the Blackhawks and Stars in our first three games. Welcome to Smashville!