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Why the Nashville Predators will win the Stanley Cup

Jordan Green, Sports Editor

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The Nashville Predators have been a professional team in the National Hockey League for over 18 seasons. Barry Trotz, who coached this squad for its first 15 seasons, took them only to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, into Peter Laviolette’s third season as head coach, this Nashville team has made history and reached the Western Conference Final for the first time in their franchise’s career. And after the Predators’ Game 1 victory over the Ducks in Anaheim, they are just three wins away from getting the chance to battle for the Stanley Cup.

In the postseason it is common to favor the teams with more playoff experience, and with the defending Stanley Cup champions still in contention, it is fair to assume that this Preds team is not expected to win their first major championship. Nevertheless, there are many factors that continue to make this Nashville team a true threat and diminish this prediction. Here are three reasons why the Predators will shock the hockey world and make history by winning their first cup.

The historic play from Pekka Rinne

Throughout the postseason, one of the biggest stories has been the overly impressive play from Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. In the first round, he made a statement by shutting out the number one seeded Chicago Blackhawks twice at the United Center. In that particular series, Rinne held a historic 0.978 save percentage, and allowed a total of three goals to get passed him in those four games. That play continued into the second round series against the St. Louis Blues, where in six games he allowed a total of 1.88 goals per game.

Game 2 last night against the Ducks, however, was a rare slump from this normal play, as he allowed four goals to get passed him for the first time this postseason. As the series is tied 1-1 heading to Smashville, Rinne is going to have to play at top form once again in order for this Preds team to not only find success over this physical Anaheim squad, but to also get the chance of claiming the prestigious Stanley Cup.

Continued offensive production from defensive players

Nashville throughout the years has been known for their impressive defensive lines that were not only extremely physical, but also showed great offensive ability. For years, these lines were supported behind captain Shea Weber who is known for having the hardest shot in the NHL. However, with Weber’s trade to Montreal for the enigmatic defenseman P.K. Subban, these lines would see a new leader that may even increase that level of offensive production. This prediction has come to life in the postseason.

The first defensive line holding both Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis has especially impressed as they both have four goals, which is tied for first among defensmen, and nine points in the postseason, which is tied for second among defensemen only behind Senators’ Erik Karlsson who has 13. The improved play from these two defensive stars, along with several spectacular outings from Subban and Mattias Ekholm, have been the backbone behind many of these Predators victories, and if Nashville wants to continue on their postseason journey, these lines must continue to shine both offensively and defensively.

Play of Arvidsson, Johansen and Forsberg

Unlike their defense, Nashville has been known for having lackluster options on offense. For years, the Predators have been searching for an offensive line that can finally categorize them as an elite team in the NHL. They’ve acquired players throughout the years with an extended amount of talent such as winger Patric Hornqvist, center Mike Fisher, center David Legwand, and so on, however they couldn’t find a combination that truly worked, until now.

Over the past three years, Filip Forsberg has solidified himself as the main option for this Predators’ offense, and with the acquisition of at the time Columbus Blue Jackets centerman Ryan Johansen about two years ago, Nashville seemed to be bringing together a line that may finally get this team over the hump. However, Johansen’s play was dull, as he was having trouble finding his role in their system. But Johansen began to play up to his standards this past regular season, and with that came the impressive play from winger Viktor Arvidsson. Add these three factors, and you have quite possibly the best line in Nashville Predators’ history.

This statement can be argued thanks to this line’s dominating play in the first round series against the Blackhawks. The three accumulated a total of 15 points, and completely shocked Corey Crawford and Chicago’s defensive lines. The other exciting aspect if you are a Nashville fan is that these three men are all younger than 25, meaning if this line grows together and becomes one of the strongest in the league, the Predators will not only become a single season success story, but quite possibly a new dynasty in the NHL. In order for Nashville to go all of the way, this line must continue to put up the numbers they did in the first round, as there statistics have slightly dropped since that series.

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Why the Nashville Predators will win the Stanley Cup