Get hyped Smashville! The Predators are going to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. The road to the Final was certainly not easy, but give the Preds credit. They fought an uphill battle all season long and now stand on the doorstep of greatness.
The Predators were coming off a Western Conference Semifinal Game 7 loss to the San Jose Sharks. The big move of the offseason was the trade for P.K. Subban, in exchange for their Captain, Shea Weber. It was certainly a move that puzzled many people around hockey, given Subban’s deteriorating standing in Montreal. Nashville came out of the gate in October, but just barely. A slow start for the Predators carried on until about the All-Star break. They were not terrible, but many did not expect them to be playoff bound. A late season run though, secured a return trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Their first test in the playoffs was from the West favorites, Chicago Blackhawks. Many people from around hockey would have put good money on the Blackhawks ending that series within five games. Smashville shut down Chicago’s potent offense and even that is an understatement. Pekka Rinne was untouchable in the series, surrendering three goals in a four game sweep. The Predators’ dominance of the Blackhawks should have been a sign of things to come.
Their next test was in the form of the St. Louis Blues. They had finished last season with a Western Conference Final appearance. Again, people claimed the Blues would handle the Predators. Again, people were wrong. Rinne was not as dominant this time around, but his offense more than made up for it. With a Game 6 win in the series, the Predators moved on to their first appearance in the Western Conference Final.
With Nashville’s Game 6 win, they would face off against the Anaheim Ducks for a spot in the Cup Final. However, late in Game 4, Predators Captain Mike Fisher went down after taking a knee to the side of the head from Duck Defenseman Josh Manson. What might be most impressive about this run is how depleted this team has been (four regular forwards, including two Centermen). Game 6 of this series was nuts; the Ducks came back from down 3-1 in the third to tie the game, then the Preds real off three straight, which included a Colton Sissons hat trick.
And so, this magical ride for the fans of the Predators continues into June. In their 19 year history, Nashville has more Western Conference Championships (1) than division titles (0). Let that sink in for a minute. The team who entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the fewest points of the 16 participants, will play for the Cup. And for those wondering if Captain Fisher touched the Clarance S. Campbell Bowl:
Now, for the first time ever, the Nashville Predators will fight the Pittsburgh Penguins for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Game 1 is set for Monday, 8:00 EDT in Pittsburgh.
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