The Nashville Predators season came to an untimely end last night following another OT battle with the heavily favored Carolina Hurricanes. Nashville, a team who in the shortened season seemed destined for significant changes both on the ice and with management rallied after a disappointing first half of the season to finish 31-23-2 securing the final playoff spot in the Central Division.
A Predators team that was given essentially no shot at one of the league’s powerhouses in Carolina gave the Hurricanes a run for their money. After the Hurricanes opened the series with two victories at home to take care of home ice advantage, the Predators returned serve with two dramatic double OT victories to lock the series even. From there on out the series was as tight as ever with the Hurricanes squeaking it out in the end. 4 straight overtime games is what it took to decide the fate of the Predators and what a ride this series was.
The barns of both teams were beyond electric with fans filling the seats, giving us a sense of return to normalcy amidst the pandemic that has changed the sports landscape for the last two seasons. Smashville returned to it’s rabid crazed frenzy that Bridgestone Arena is noted for and this series did not disappoint. This was not the Colorado Avalanche running over the St. Louis Blues in just about every fashion as many predicted or the wild offensive slugfest of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. This series featured the drama, thrills, energy and agony that created a marquee matchup that very well could have resulted in a major upset had the Predators been able to pull one more OT thriller off.
For a season that featured the lows of players up and down the lineup not producing with big pieces of the lineup like Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene included, this team found a way to rally and pull off an incredible run right to the end. Once in the playoffs, the rollercoaster returned and the top stars of the team provided little to nothing in the opening games of the series. Just like the regular season and with their backs against the wall, the club went to work. Game 3 saw the breakouts of Ryan Johansen and Ryan Ellis to name a few along with stellar goaltending from Juuse Saros.
Ultimately in the end it was not enough to match the power of the Hurricanes and while the ride was a thriller and excitement until the end, changes are needed to get this roster back to a contender level. While the group of players on paper should be a top flight team on a nightly basis that clearly has not been the case. Will management wait and see how next season unfolds or look to make the moves necessary to get this team back to the top of the division on an annual basis? Will the front office be shaken up or coaching changes that were clamored for earlier in the season be back on the radar?
Now that the offseason is upon us those questions should become more clear as we head towards the expansion draft.Embed from Getty Images