As the 2017 Preds season was winding down, the thought of how far Nashville could go in the playoffs was once again on the minds of their fans. For this team, making it to the postseason has become a regular thing. Another regular thing has been their eventual elimination providing their fanbase with another major letdown.
When they swept the Chicago Blackhawks, the thought was that it was too good to be true. Then, it was a convincing series win against the St. Louis Blues and a trip to the Conference Finals. That in itself seemed unlikely when you look back at how this team began that season.
A monster Game 6 to capture the Western Conference saw the city of Nashville at center stage. The turnout of the Preds faithful and the absolute craze that surrounded this team gave everyone in Music City hope they had never had. It would all end in six games to the defending Stanley Cup champs, the Penguins of Pittsburgh.
So, the expectations were set for the 2017-18 season. Nothing less than a return trip to the Finals would satisfy a fan base that was ready for a champion. Nothing can be accepted unless it is the Preds skating around with Lord Stanley’s Cup.
What this season has brought is one of the best teams in the NHL all year long. It brought back the captain, Mike Fisher out of retirement to see if he can finally drink from the Cup. It has seen David Poile become the winningest GM in NHL history. The season that Pekka Rinne is having (18-1-1 in his last 20 games), is one for the ages, even at his age. He may even be looking at finally getting his first Vezina Trophy.
Guys like Viktor Arvidsson, P.K. Subban, Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg have shown consistency all year long. Roman Josi has filled the Captain shoes just as was expected. Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith round out seven players with at least 40 points so far this year. Oh, the Preds may never get that 100 point scorer, or that 50 goal guy. Yet, all they do is keep winning and winning.
Last night, Johansen recorded the Gordie Howe hat trick where a player scores a goal, an assist, and gets into a fight. The 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks extended their franchise-best winning streak to 10 games. No matter the situation, or the obstacle, these Predators just keep on winning.
With the win, the Preds now stand at 97 points with a 44-14-9 record. The 14 losses are the fewest in the league and they are just one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the best record in the league. They lead the Western Conference by six points and are looking to lock the conference up.
This year, once they make the playoffs, the feel in Nashville will be like never before. This team is one of the best in the world and their fans know it. Rinne is one of the best goalies in the world, and that too is known. What is still the unknown is can this, the best Nashville team ever put on ice reach the holy grail of hockey?
The only thing that matters now is a run right to the Finals. The only thing on the minds of this team and their fans is more rowdy crowds in the streets of Nashville. The only thing that matters is the eventual hoisting of the Stanley Cup so that once and for all, the Nashville Predators can be called Champions of the hockey world.
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