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Predators year in review


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PRESEASON OUTLOOK: The year before goalie extraordinaire Pekka th?id=OIP.M2865f0f0040f250602ed6557c3ffc Rinne missed a ton of time and took the teams hopes down with him. This year with Rinne healthy the hope was that they would be a playoff contender.


FINAL RECORD: 41-27-14 96 points Wildcard, won first round against Anaheim, lost in second round in 7 games to the Sharks.


STRANGE STAT OF THE YEAR: Nashville has always been known for their defense, this year they gave up the fewest shots of any team in Hockey. Filip th?id=OIP.M9527ffd88b3d00fd8e58bc8a42363 Forsberg had 22 goals and home and was a magnificent plus 15, on the road he had only 11 goals and was minus 14. Mike Ribiero was testy on the road with 42 penalty minutes but downright gentlemanly at home with only 20. And Shea Weber was plus 9 at home but dead last on the entire team with minus 16 on the road.


HIGH POINT OF THE YEAR: Defeating the Ducks in 7 games in the first round was a huge highlight for the team. The other high point was trading Seth Jones to the Jackets for Ryan Johansen who is the 1C this team has never had.


LOW POINT OF THE SEASON: They literally wrung themselves out and ran out of gas by game 7 against the Sharks and were decimated 5-0. They were spent at that point and could not get it going.


 WHAT WENT RIGHT: The trade for Johansen (14-46-60 22 PPP) gives the team the top line center they have never had. Filip Forsberg overcame a slow start to finish with 33 goals. The All Star Game was a smashing success for the city. They won a round against the rival Ducks. James Neal bounced back with 31 goals. With the establishment of Josi as a stud on the back end it gives them both he and th?id=OIP.Mfc98d1d7edf7c90708bf853258e52 Weber to work the power play. Weber had 20 goals and 26 PPP. Mike Ribiero (7-43-50) continues to shine as a setup man. Craig Smith overcame a slow start to drill 21 goals. An embarrasment of riches on the back end, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis are solid at both ends of the ice, often times joining the rush and keeping other teams on their heals. Calle Jamkrok is a delight to watch play, he never stops hustling and scored 16 goals on the third line. Carter Hutton was stout as a backup.


WHAT WENT WRONG: Cody Hodgson bombed in what may be his last chance at the NHL. Mike Fisher is aging poorly and is nothing more than a 3C on his best day, maybe less. Pekka Rinne went through long stretches of the season where he was a detriment to the team. Granted, he came on strong down the stretch but he hurt the club early. Colin Wilson fell off the face of the Earth with 6 goals. Paul Gaustad has eroded badly and is no longer relevant as a player.Gabriel Bourque was awful and free agent signee Barret Jackman was invisible most of the year.


MVP: I am going with Roman th?id=OIP.Md418a8a85f4c995aca547ddd23add Josi who has passed the formidable Weber as the teams best defenseman, both offensively and defensively. He scored (14-47-61 and 24 PPP) and led the team with 25:29 minutes a night.


FREE AGENTS: Not much. Gaustad is done and may have a hard time finding another team to give him a shot. Carter Hutton was brilliant but a lot of that could be one of the leagues best defenses in front of him. He will be looking for a payday.


TOP PROSPECTS: In the short term Kevin Fiala is looking to crack the middle six forwards and brings some offense though he lacks size. He is a good skater but not blazing fast. Viktor Arvidsson broke in with the team last year and scored 8 goals in limited time, he has upside but like Fiala is on the small side. Big center Vladislav Kamenev may push Fisher out of the picture soon. Not a superstar but capable of filling a 3C role quite nicely. Jimmy Vesey is the organizations best prospect but will be in Milwaukee all year unless he kills it at the AHL level and they need him. If carter Hutton leaves, Juuse Saros will take the job, he is just a body. Nothing more. Fortunately they have a solid defense because there is nothing there that deserves a glance.


OFFSEASON QUESTION MARKS: This was a succesful season for the team, what now? For years the Predators have been one of those clubs that either just misses or just makes the playoffs and then most often loses in the first round with occasional upsets of someone only to lose in the second. This is the deepest team they have ever had, can Johansen, Weber, Josi, Rinne, Forsberg and Neal jell with the rest of the boys and form a real contender or will they forever remain cannon fodder for the real contenders?

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