Is Time Running Out for the Predators?
By Patrick Hoffman
The Nashville Predators have been one of the league's most consistent clubs for a very long time.
They finish at or near the top of the standings in the division, the Western Conference, and the league in general. The team always gets into the playoffs and wins a round or two before getting knocked out.
With all of that said, they have yet to win the Stanley Cup. They came very close in 2017 when they lost in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins in what was their first and only (so far) Cup Final appearance.
This should make one wonder if time is going to run out for them. Predators' franchise goaltender Pekka Rinne is a perfect example when it comes to talking about running out of time.
Rinne may be two years removed from winning a Vezina Trophy as the league's best goaltender, but he is going to be 37-years-old in November. Yes, Rinne may still end up having a great season, but at 37 years of age, how much does he have left in the tank to win this franchise their first Cup?
This is a good question to ask considering the team has 24-year-old masked man Juuse Saros set to go and ready to be their future goaltender.The question that needs to be answered is who do the Predators' think will be the goaltender that gives them the best chance of winning it all?
Another reason to worry is the fact that they play in one of the league's best divisions. The Central Division is loaded with talented hockey clubs in the Winnipeg Jets, Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild.
As you can see, all of the teams in the Central are good enough to make the playoffs in any given season. Look at how the division performed last season:
1) Nashville Predators (100 points)
2) Winnipeg Jets (99 points)
3) St. Louis Blues (99 points)
4) Dallas Stars (93 points)
5) Colorado Avalanche (90 points)
6) Chicago Blackhawks (84 points)
7) Minnesota Wild (83 points)
If you're counting at home, five of the seven teams in the division made the postseason last year. There is a good chance that the division is going to be tight this season as well so it's not a guarantee that the Predators will get out of the first round or even make the playoffs.
Lastly, one has to wonder how much of a leash head coach Peter Laviolette has for the upcoming season. He's had a ton of success as the Predators' head coach since he started with the club in 2014.
With that said, and has been stated above, the team has yet to win a Cup despite one of the best teams in the league for the last five seasons or so. If they do not win it this season, will a change need to be made?
If the Predators want to win the Cup, the time needs to be now. If they don't win it this season, do not be surprised if general manager David Poile makes a significant change that could impact their franchise moving forward.
Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.