Nashville proved to be an equal competitor to the Hawks, splitting the season series at three games apiece. They finished the regular season with a 44-27-11 record. The Preds went into the playoffs as the fifth seed and lost to Vancouver in five games in the second round.
The Hawks were two points behind the Predators in the Central Division standings last year. With the team from last year still intact, they will look to be just as tough this year.
The Predators didn’t make a big splash in the market this year. Their biggest pick-up was defenseman Brett Lebda, a former Redwing. They have worked hard to keep the last year’s team on the ice for this season.
The Predators are a young team, with an average age of 26. If they can hold on to their players over the years, this team will become familiar with the playoffs for quite some time.
The bump-and-grind style of play the Preds is what makes them such a threat in the Central Division. They are one of the hardest working teams in the league. They always beat us by getting to loose pucks and creating their own bounces with their physical play.
Nashville is weak when it comes to overtime and shootout play. They only won eight out of 19 games that went to overtime or longer.
Finnish goalie Pekka Rinne will start in net for Nashville this season. He went 33-22-9 in his 64 appearances. His back up, Andreas Lindback, is no slouch either. He only had 22 appearances last year, but went 11-5-2 as a starter.
Nashville is becoming one of the league’s top teams. They have battled with the Hawks since they joined the NHL in 1998. They are becoming not only a divisional rival, but a playoff rival as well. The year the Hawks won the cup, Nashville was the team that gave them the most trouble on their way to the top. Nashville has proven themselves as contenders and will be looking to continue their success this upcoming season.
As of August 2, Captain Shea Weber and the Predators will enter into arbitration. The defenseman and the organization could not come to an agreement and have decided to truly see how much Weber is worth. These days arbitration seems like a death sentence for teams looking to keep their top players.
If the Predators lose Weber, they lose their top defenseman and arguably the best player in Nashville’s short history. He was a Norris Trophy finalist this past season and was clearly the leader of the young Nashville squad.