If you try to list the number of NHL teams that have mostly made the playoffs as of late, there’ll be one you probably can’t remember. That would be my Nashville Predators. Why? Because our admittedly short history isn’t too rich. We’re not only on the short list of teams that have never won a Stanley Cup. We’re on the short list of teams that have never made it past the second round.
I mean, it was one thing when our first five seasons were losers. It was a new team. What do you expect? Eventually, we got to the playoffs. Lost the first round 4-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. What’s worse is that the Red Wings were our archrivals before they left the Central Division. No matter, we’re trending up. Next year we’ll — how the hell did we only win one game against San Jose in the first round? With starting home ice? Why, we were well into the Obama administration by the time we won our first playoff series.
I actually thought we might go all the way last year when after being a midseason dumpster fire, we streaked our way past the first round over a very good Anaheim Ducks team. Looks like we’re showing up when it counts. Next? San Jose. And this series looks no different… until game 7, when we utterly crapped the bed to lose 5-0!
Always next year. And sure enough, we got a trade you’ll ordinarily make only in the video games. Arguably the best defenseman in the game, P.K. Subban, came to town. This made Nashville the trendy pick to win a loaded Central. And after that, who knows? Sure enough, a win over the dynasty and hated rivals that are the Chicago Blackhawks opens up the season. Subban even gets a goal even though he’s not first and foremost a offensive player. What a great time to be a Predators fan. Oh no, six of the next seven games are losses. Subban’s feeling discomfort in our unique formations (we are built more around defensemen than most teams). What’s worse is he got injured for an extended period. Mike Fisher not being as strong a leader on the ice as Shea Weber was before we traded him for Subban hasn’t helped either.
Thankfully, we have somewhat rebounded and are in the playoff picture. Part of the reason is that a back in action Subban seems more like the guy we thought we were getting. We have been playing fairly good hockey in the year of 2017. Thing is, the hype we brought Subban to Nashville with means that anything less than a great playoff run will be a disappointment.
Having said that, we have been playing well enough (the two losses before yesterday notwithstanding) that it’s not impossible that we again get hot just in time for the playoffs. And if we make it to the third round of the postseason, nobody cares about how badly we played in the fall.
So I have hope… but not necessarily too much optimism. Welcome to Smashville!