NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – An NHL season is an 82 game grind filled with ups and downs and that was especially true for the Nashville Predators this season.
The team got off to rocky start in October, winning just two of their first 8 games. However, that all changed in November.
Thanks to stellar goaltending from Pekka Rinne, the Preds were able to get the momentum back.
Rinne was named the league’s “First Star of the Month,” the first Pred to ever earn the honor. He went 9-1-2 in November and stopped 95 percent of the shots he faced.
The team could not remain consistent, however, getting 13 of a possible 28 points in December.
In 2017 the Predators started to get back to their winning ways.
The team went 8-4-2 in January thanks to two separate three-game winning streaks. In February, the Preds stayed hot, winning eight of their 13 games.
Filip Forsberg scored hat tricks in consecutive games for the first time in team history. He scored a league-leading 11 goals in the month, good enough for “Second Star of the Month” honors.
Fellow Swede Viktor Arvidsson scored 9 goals in February, bringing his season total to 22. Last season, he scored a career-high eight goals. To say he was having a successful season would be putting it lightly.
The Preds rounded out the season in March and April with strong play from Forsberg, Arvidsson and defenseman Ryan Ellis.
And while Predators forwards Craig Smith and Colin Wilson did not have the seasons many had expected, the two are heating up at the right time.
The league is noticing Smith’s playmaking ability and that was really showcased in the last few weeks of the season. In his last 12 games he was dishing out assists at a very high rate. He finished that stretch of games with 12 points.
The season ended with the Preds getting the last wild card spot in the western conference.
Ryan Johansen led the team in assists with 47. Arvidsson and Forsberg lead the team in goals with 31 each. Johansen and Arvidsson each had a league-leading 61 points.
Now, as the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, many experts around the league expect the Predators to give the Blackhawks all they can handle, but few are predicting a Preds win.
The team remains confident, though, going into game one on Thursday knowing they have what it takes to beat the Hawks if they play their best.
“You work this hard to keep playing for another couple weeks or months and no one wants it to end,” said defenseman Ryan Ellis. “You only get a certain number of games to leave your mark.”
The Predators open round one against Chicago on Thursday night at the United Center. News 2’s Kara Hammer will be traveling with the team and have updates throughout the weekend.