Last week, the Nashville Predators released their 2016-17 regular season schedule, which included a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks on October 13th. In the spirit of the new season, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane and revisit some of the most memorable moments from last year.
The Preds’ Playoff Run
It’s almost hard to believe that the Nashville Predators finished the 2015-16 regular season with exactly 58 wins and 110 losses. After starting off slow, the Predators rattled off 12 consecutive victories in October, including an 8-2 trouncing of the Blackhawks. Even more impressively, Nashville finished the month of October with 19 out of a possible 24 points, good for third in the Central Division and 10th in the Western Conference. With the help of some stellar goaltending from Pekka Rinne and an injury-free season from Filip Forsberg, the Predators were able to make some noise in the playoffs.
The Road To The Stanley Cup
After an incredible regular season, the Nashville Predators went on to face the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the playoffs. On paper, it was a mismatch. The Predators were heavy underdogs, but they made the most out of their opportunities and beat the Sharks in five games. The following round was also relatively easy for Nashville, as they faced the St. Louis Blues, also in five games. With a little help from some late-game scoring, the Predators were able to advance to the Western Conference Finals, where they fell short to the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games. In the offseason, the Predators were able to retain their core talent in Rinne, David Poile, and Peter Laviolette.
The Growth Of Nashville And The Impact On The Predators
Nashville didn’t win the Stanley Cup last year, but they did accomplish something more important: they grew as a team and as an organization. After a decade of struggling, the Nashville Predators finally broke through to the top in 2015-16. The team was never going to be able to stay there, but the goal was to bring success and stability to a city that has sorely needed both. Over the course of the season, the Nashville Predators went 22-8-6 at home, compared to 19-16-8 on the road. The 12 home games reflect the growth of the franchise, as they played relatively error-free hockey at home, which led to many high-scoring games. The Predators also learned to be more consistent on the road, where they won only eight of the 16 games. In general, the team played better at home and struggled a bit on the road. The effect was dramatic, and it was clear that the team grew as the season went on. In fact, the team’s shooting percentage at even strength was 16.7% higher at home than on the road. While many NHL teams struggle to find the net at even strength, the Predators managed to buck the trend, scoring 1.32 goals per game at home, compared to 0.89 per game on the road. Another notable development was the number of high-quality scoring chances the Predators generated at even strength. At home, they had 76 scoring chances per 60 minutes, while on the road, it was 68 scoring chances per 60 minutes. Finally, the Nashville Predators managed to keep their star players on the ice for longer at home than on the road. Overall, the team was better in the second half of the season, which shows that there is some definite room for growth and for the existing players to step up their games in order to take the next step.
After a 10-year drought, the Nashville Predators were able to capture the hearts of their fans with an incredible playoff run last year. A lot of credit goes to Head Coach Peter Laviolette for leading this young group of players to the postseason and keeping them there. While the team’s defense was shaky at times, the offense was dynamic, scoring 29.8% of all the even-strength goals. In the playoffs, the Predators weren’t able to keep up with the higher-end teams, but they held their own and matched up well against most opponents. The growth of the franchise and the emergence of a number of young players can be seen in the form of a 22-8-6 record at home, compared to 19-16-8 on the road. With the offseason now upon us, the Nashville Predators have a solid foundation to build upon. While the team won’t be able to keep up with the elite teams in the NHL, they should still be able to make the playoffs and give the fans another exciting season. The future looks very promising for the Nashville Predators.