The Nashville Predators did not end the 2014-15 campaign on the best terms. With a loss in the first round of the NHL playoffs, the Predators look to begin the new season on the right foot.
While many teams did some moving and shaking with their lineups, the Predators kept most of the team intact and built upon last year’s success. In the off-season, Nashville was able to add key veterans Cody Hodgson and Barret Jackman. Hodgson seems to be settling in as the 3rd-line center, while Jackman will be paired with the offensive-minded, Seth Jones.
Another key to this year’s roster is Austin Watson, Anthony Bitetto, and Viktor Arvidsson making the team out of camp. All three had significant camps and have earned the right to be with the Preds, instead of travelling back to Milwaukee.
Tonight, the Nashville Predators will open up their season at Bridgestone Arena against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Last season was not a banner-type year for the Carolina Hurricanes. With 71 points and a record of 30-41-11, the Canes are looking to start out the year with some success on the road. Last season their road record was 12-25-4.
In late June, Carolina was able to acquire Eddie Lack and sign him to a two-year extension. Lack brings a goalie that seems to be coming into his own. Cam Ward seems to be starting against the Preds, but this will be Lack’s job for the near future.
Keys to Watch
Year Two Under Laviolette
Last season, Nashville was one of the best teams of the NHL. Did they peak too soon last year? Probably. This team has taken the system of extreme offense to fit the former strong defense in a great mold. The fan base will be looking for progression from this team in year 2 of the Laviolette regime. Does success look like a deep run in the playoffs? I think so. The fans are looking for success and they have been seeing it under this coaching staff.
The biggest surprise last season was the play of Filip Forsberg. His 26 goals, 37 assists, and 63 points played a key role in the Preds making the playoffs. Nashville needs Forsberg to continue his great play with consistency. Towards the end of last season, Forsberg tailed out his scoring with only 1 goal in his last 10 games. The Preds will need consistent goal scoring and point production from this young All-Star for the team to have continued success.
Off-Year or Declining
Last year, Captain Shea Weber did not reach the expectations that many had set in regards to his performance. He was -11 points from his previous campaign (-8 goals, -3 assists). So, the question needs to be addressed whether the captain of the Predators is declining in his performance or if it was just an off year for the Sicamous, BC, Canada native. Only time will tell, but this will be an ongoing key to watch over this season.
The Preds will look to continue their success from last season by taking down the Canes at Bridgestone Arena. Be sure to get your tickets and be a part of Opening Night! If you can not make it out to the arena, be sure to catch the game on Fox Sports-Tennessee or listen live on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 7pm.