Hockey

Is Nashvile the newest hockey city?

It’s not every day a Tennessee fan can claim their team is number one but the Titans and Grizzlies are teams you can never count on. However, the Nashville Predators are a team that has always attempted to improve and they finally have risen to the top. As many people say today now: Nashville is a hockey city.

Now not everyone believes it, but what reasons do you have to justify that Nashville isn’t or won’t be a hockey city.

The Predators have been able to defeat all odds making it to the Stanley Cup finals two years ago and coming short of the Western Conference championship last year.

It’s not only your everyday staters that are making an impact for the Preds. Forwards Viktor Ardvisson and Filip Forsberg are both out up to six weeks which can make or break a team especially when they are your top goal scores on the team.

Nashville recently comes off a win against former coach Phil Housley and the Buffalo Sabres who are a surprising team thus far this season. The result ended at 2-1 in a tightly contested match. Before Monday’s matchup, both teams had 37 points tied for third best in the NHL.

Without the play of goalie Pekka Rinne, the Predators would not be where they are today. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner leads the league in GAA (Goals against average) at 1.81 and save percentage with .935. Rinne is also tied for third in wins and shutouts. Needless to say, Rinne is on fire and looks like an early favorite to retain his Vezina trophy.

Nashville has won their past two games but despite the success, the injury bug has bit in Nashville. As mentioned earlier, Arvidsson was the first to go. P.K Subban was fashionably bitten next followed by Kyle Turris and Forsberg. As of this date, Subban and Turris are unknown when to return. Arvidsson and Forsberg have a schedule of up to a six-week return.

Despite the injuries, players have been able to step up in their absence. Since returning back on ice from a suspension, Austin Watson has five goals and two assists. In the past five games, Craig Smith has registered two goals and two assists. Kevin Fiala has scored three goals and two assists. Many players that usually are only looked at as role players are being given key minutes to show Nashville and the coaches what this team can do without four of their best players.

The Preds currently are in third and are on pace to once again becoming central division champions while also receiving another Presidents trophy. If this team keeps playing the way they are now and add those four key pieces back to their lines, this will once again be a team that people will fear to play down the stretch and come the post-season.

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Preston Bostain
Preston covers the Tennessee Titans and the AFC South for NGSC Sports. He also covers Nashville Predators hockey.
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