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The Music City entered the NHL in 1998 with an expansion team and immediately brought a new fan base into hockey. From locals to transplants to country music superstars, the Nashville Predators united the population in gold, navy, and white.
Struggling through the early years, the Predators worked hard to find a winning formula on the ice. After five long years without any postseason experience, the Predators finally made the playoffs following the 2003-04 season. A quick exit at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings was enough to ignite a fire under this franchise that would have them continue to strive for playoff greatness.
The Predators have been a perennial playoff contender, making a postseason appearance in 10 out of the last 13 seasons. Despite playing will enough to make the playoffs, a deep run seemed to elude the team. Nashville was never able to get beyond the second round of the tournament… until two seasons ago.
Following a strong showing with a record of 41-29-12, the Predators made the playoffs as the second wild card team in the Western Conference. Matching up against the powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks, there was a collective gulp in Tennessee. Never ones to back down from a challenge, the Predators brought their best game to the rink and astonishingly knocked off the Blackhawks in four games. This was the first time in NHL history that an eighth seeded team swept the first seeded team. Facing off against the St. Louis Blues, the Preds went back to work and prevailed in six games, sending Nashville to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in their history.
A hard-fought six games series ensued with the Anaheim Ducks in the conference finals. A surging Anaheim team brimming with strength and speed was not enough to shake the Predators, who again triumphed to reach the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. Facing the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, the Predators gave them everything they had. Digging themselves out of the 2-0 deficit to even the series, the Predators couldn’t find the strength to close out the series, losing in heartbreaking fashion in six games.
This Cinderella run inspired the team and had them working hard all off-season to make another run at the Cup. An impressive 53-18-11 record captured first place not only in the division, but in the entire league, earning Nashville the first President’s Trophy in their existence. They would advance to the second round of the playoffs where they were ousted in seven games by the Winnipeg Jets.
Peter Laviolette is in his fifth year as head coach of this team with plans to extend his playoff berth streak with the Predators and reach the highest of NHL plateaus by being the first coach to hoist the Cup in Nashville. His team has captained by longtime Nashville plater Roman Josi following the re-retirement of Mike Fisher, who cut his retirement last season short to rejoin the team with the intention of helping them win it all.
This team is loaded on talent. Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson led the team in points last season and are hoping to eclipse their numbers this year. Centerman Ryan Johansen continues to impress as he has become a star player in the league. Roman Josi is also lighting the score sheet on fire from the defense. The acquisition of PK Subban from Montreal definitely added to their strong play. The already strong defensive corps that features Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm does a great job in their own end. Ellis has been rewarded with a monster deal for 8 years and $50 million to stay in the Music City. Pekka Rinne takes his normal spot between the pipes, determined to keep the scoring low and allowing his team the opportunity to come out on top night after night. Making a statement at the trade deadline, Nashville picked up Mikael Granlund from Minnesota and Wayne Simmonds from Philadelphia in a pair of moves that could be big for the Preds come playoff time.
This team may have been underrated in the past, but that is no longer the case as Nashville has proven how deadly they can be. After making a big splash in the playoffs, the Nashville Predators have arrived as a Cup contender determined to make it back to the finals. Some of the most loved players to suit up for Nashville include Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber, David Legwand, Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, Mike Fisher, Ryan Suter, Paul Kariya, and Kimmo Timonen. More information about the history of the Nashville Predators as well as their current team can be found by clicking here.