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Poll: Will the Predators make the playoffs?

Aug 9, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

Goalie Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators looks on as he defends the goal against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on March 30, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Predators 1-0 in overtime.
(March 29, 2013 - Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

The Nashville Predators were only three points shy of a playoff berth last season, which is pretty impressive when you consider that starting goaltender Pekka Rinne missed most of the campaign due to a hip injury.

The fact that he’s back and had all summer to prepare for his comeback campaign alone makes the Predators a significantly better team. On top of that, they arguably took a significant step forward offensively. Nashville added James Neal, Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, and Olli Jokinen over the summer, which will give head coach Peter Laviolette some interesting players to work with as he tries to craft the Predators into a more offensively-minded squad.

Nashville also has one of the best blueliners in the game in Shea Weber and a maturing supporting cast of Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis, Victor Bartley, along with newcomer Anton Volchenkov. That’s not a bad group.

At the same time, Nashville would need to finish with a better record than at least one of the Central Division’s Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, and Dallas Stars. Considering that all of those teams are looking pretty formidable after strong offseasons, is it really realistic to think that the Predators are ready to surpass at least one of them while simultaneously staying ahead of the Winnipeg Jets?

  1. lowenni - Aug 9, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    They’re not gonna beat out some of the more loaded Western teams unless Rinne returns to Vezina-level form and Neal scores 35+ goals for them. I think Barry Trotz could’ve taken them there though. N

  2. jacketsfan7 - Aug 9, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    ^^^^^^ couldn’t agree more, Neal and pens need to be at the top of their games if the predators have a shot at the wild card

  3. bcsteele - Aug 9, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    I don’t believe so. You can’t craft a team over night from free agency and with Fisher out all of their center are new to the team now. I would think it would take some time to build some chemistry not to mention you really don’t know what you’ve got with some of those players.

    Safe bargains and they’ve made strides but I don’t think its enough to be above anybody but the Jets in the Central. The Central is just to deep. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the exact same teams made the playoffs this year that made it last time.

  4. jacketsfan7 - Aug 9, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    *pekka not pens lol

  5. govtminion - Aug 9, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Even with a healthy Rinne, I’m having trouble looking around the West and saying that they’re better than eight other teams. They have a tough schedule with a lot of nights against St. Louis and Chicago in there. And even with the addition of guys like Ribiero and Neal, there’s just not a lot of offense here.

    I don’t think this will be a long rebuilding process- they need a couple of good forwards added and this could be a pretty dangerous team (how good would they have looked with Jason Spezza?). But for this season? I think they’ll get close, but not quite get over the eighth-place line.

    • 19to77 - Aug 9, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      Yeah. This team just seems destined for 10th to me. Good at keeping the puck out of the net, and hopefully better than before at filling it, but a new coach, a new collection of centres and question marks around Pekka Rinne’s health and consistency are all marks against the team, and for all the changes, their offense still doesn’t look to be of the same calibre as the ‘Hawks, Blues, Stars, Avs… and that’s just the Central. The odds are just not in their favour. They’ll look good in a couple of years, but the Central Division arms race we saw this summer probably keeps them on the outside looking in for now.

      • billneftleberg - Aug 9, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        when you consider that minus fisher who could miss the first 3rd of the season, that Ribeiro, Roy, and Jokinen, who have 4 20 goal seasons combined over their last 18 combined seasons, one wonders who will get Neal the puck. this is a team desparate for a Ryan Strome or Alex Barkov. Calle Jarnkrok has the talent, but at less than 160 lbs, he may not be physically able to withstand the pounding.

        I honestly dont see the promise that some see in the team either

  6. orangandblack - Aug 9, 2014 at 11:10 AM


  7. blackheart78 - Aug 9, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    I have written before that until David Poile realizes you have to actually score goals in the NHL to win games this team will go nowhere. I’m know he has tried to make moves (trying to get Spezza, Lecavalier) but unless he wants to depart with one of the 47 defenseman this team seems to have the Predators are going to have to win a lot of games with scores like 2-1, or 2-0. I do not like their chances against other teams in the west.

  8. tfilarski - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    not a chance

  9. penguins87and71 - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    They have a shot with Pekka Rinne back and healthy next season, and James Neal will help with they’re scoring. I say they defiantly have a shot.

  10. billneftleberg - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    no chance, I think they have the worst group of centers by far in the NHL . they have 11 on their roster and Jarnkrok might be the only one with top line potential. Fisher is serviceable as a second liner, but Roy, Ribeiro and Jokinen are only going to take Ice time away from kids like Wilson and Smith, who need to play to get better.

    This team is banking on Roy, Ribeiro and Jokinen and I see them dragging them down

  11. titansbro - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    It may not be likely, but it’s not crazy. Who was their goalie last season? Exactly. And they still were only 3 pts out.

  12. billneftleberg - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Their Goalie isnt the Issue, neither is the Defense, banking on Roy, Ribeiro and Jokinen is the problem. 6 centers with an Average age of 34 playing an 82 game schedule in the west will kill them

  13. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 9, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    Their only hope would be if the NHL re-alligns and they are moved the the weak EC.

  14. Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 9, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    I think the west will be pretty much the same as last season. The 8 teams that made the playoffs didn’t get any worse.

    Kings, Hawks, Blues, Avs, Wild are all cup contenders and shoe ins for the playoffs.
    Sharks, Ducks and Stars are all playoff worthy teams and dark horse cup contenders.

    That’s 8 teams. Injuries and things can happen, so it’s not impossible, but the Preds, Yotes, Nucks, Oilers, Jets and Flames would need a lot of things to go their way to make the playoffs in the west.

  15. phillyphanatic77 - Aug 9, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    I know Pekka Rinne hasn’t exactly been healthy the past few years but when you’re a $7 mil/per goalie you can’t post consecutive years with sv%’s of .910 and .902 (plus .897 in 22 KHL games)… that’s pretty terrible, especially when you consider what the Preds system was like under Trotz and the type of defensive depth the team has had. Is it a coincidence that since Ryan Suter has left both the Preds and especially their elite goalie have been subpar, at best? For them to have a shot at even sniffing the playoffs they need their big goalie back to the .922 and .930%s he had a few years back.

    I love their dcorps… arguably the games best in Weber, a future #1 in Jones, an elite #2-3 in Josi, dynamic offensive talent in Ryan Ellis, Ekholm, Volchenkov, and Bartley… talk about depth. And all the key guys are young. But the forwards are one big ?. How will Neal produce without elite setup men feeding him? Can Ribiero, Roy, Jokinen, Stalberg, and Cullen do enough? Will Craig Smith, Colin Wilson, Forsberg, Jarnkrok, and Bourque step up? What will happen with Fisher? And obviously, is Rinne gonna bounceback to his old self at 32? There are just way, way too many big mysteries. No playoffs this year in Nashville.

  16. rsmaggiemae - Aug 9, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    No, this division is just too stacked against them in scoring…..
    Cant win with only defensive type players and they did bring in some new players to score, but are they the right players??? I really dont think so……
    The Wild have a hard enough time getting into the playoffs but hopefully that will change this year, as I see a decline with the Av;s now that Stasny is gone but then there are the Hawks
    Blues,Kings, Sharks, Ducks.
    It is going to be a interesting new year for hockey with all the players jumping from team to team.

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