What a difference a season makes... isn't that a song?
The Nashville Predators who were the eighth and final seed for the playoffs last season finishing with 94 points are showing everyone that they are a powerhouse team ready to challenge for the Cup again this year.
How dominating the Predators can be
Well, ANY team in the NHL who can win 10 consecutive games has got to be considered a dominating team. They have won five of the ten games on the road... to show they are a team to be feared no matter where they play.
They have already exceeded the 94 points they gained last season by three points with 15 games remaining on their schedule. Their 97 points trail the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning by one point, with a game-in-hand.
The Preds have a .724 winning percentage compared to the Lightning's .721, and it's tough... almost impossible to beat them, especially of late.
Tampa Bay has Nikita Kucherov with 33 goals, and 87 points along with Steven Stamkos with 27 goals, 78 points. They pretty much are a duo scoring machine.
Nashville scores by committee with Viktor Arvidsson tallying 25 goals and 51 points along with the amazing P.K. Subban collecting 15 goals and 51 points leading the way for the Predators.
The key to the Predators success has been their defense and goaltending. Allowing just 2.54 goals a game and having a stellar goalie like Pekka Rinne is the key formula for their success.
Rinne has a superb 18-1-1 record over his last 20 games. His contribution to the win column is obvious.
Are the Preds headed to the Western Conference Finals?
At this point the way they are finishing the season, it's almost a given especially with the former powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks (whom the Predators dispatched in four games in the opening round of playoffs last season) seemingly out of the playoffs.
The Blackhawks are 13 points out of a wild-card spot at this writing and it doesn't look good for them. It will mark the first time they have missed the postseason since the 2007/08 season. Ouch... that hurts.
If the playoffs were to start today, here are the matchups.
The Preds would be going up against the Los Angeles Kings whom they have brushed aside three times this season.
The only teams the Predators may need to worry about could be the surprising Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights who both have 91 points right behind the Nashville team in the Central Division. The Vegas Golden Knights placing as well as they are have had an amazing inaugural season.
Smashville is alive and well in the hockey world. They are even being considered for an outdoor game per NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
See, hockey has really caught in Music City. The following touching video shows the heart and soul the team displays towards their fans.
To say it was exciting for the Nashville Predators to go the Cup Finals last season is an understatement.
It would be devastating for them not to be there again this season.
They have unbelievable momentum and are peaking at the right time of the season. Last season they got in by a hair, this season the only question may be will they lead the conference in points and be highly seeded going into the playoffs?
They have proven themselves as a quality team, now it's just a matter of will they be in the Finals again?
I wouldn't count them out.