Well, it’s knocking at the door. That glorious moment when the hashtag #IsItOctober goes away for another year and the puck drops on another season. I don’t know about anyone else, but has this off season seemed to last eons longer than any other in recent memory? I attribute that to the fact that when Washington won the Stanley Cup, the draft was held practically 3 hours later then free agency came and went about as quickly as a tall boy in Alex Ovechkin’s hands.
But the wait is over. As long as the Preds can continue playing the Florida Panthers, we’ve got some good hockey taking place. But what should the faithful fans truly expect from this season? I, for one, don’t typically deal with predictions especially in a sport as long and fluid as hockey where so many intangibles can take place.
Will the Preds make the playoffs? Yeah, I’d come as close to using a guarantee on that. After all, a Cup run followed up by the President’s Trophy with no glaring losses to free agency and a healthy Ryan Ellis to start the season bodes very well.
PK Subban was working hard this off season as evident with his Instagram feed, so the defense should continue to be the bright spot on the team. Will this be the swan song season for Pekka Rinne? After winning the Vezina last season, it’s likely that he and Juuse Saros will split more time this year as Saros starts being groomed as the new number one in the near future (yes, folks…it’s painful, but you’re going to have to start thinking of the team PP…Post Pekka).
Of course, the team will be starting the season without their gritty left winger, Austin Watson who will be serving a 27-game suspension. For me, this might be the biggest blow to the roster, as the team, in my opinion, already lacked a certain nastiness to deter other teams from having their way, physically, with the Preds.
So, what does this all mean?
It means there are 82 games. It means this thing will continue until early-April and in the middle somewhere, there will be winning and losing streaks. Guys will get hurt and there will be call-ups and send-downs. Preds fans were on top of the world after the run in 2017 and then thought the President’s Cup would ensure another long run, however, a struggle against a young Colorado team who had nothing to lose (all the comparisons to the Preds 8th-seed team from 2017) to the Winnipeg Jets who just ran over Nashville in route to their first West Finals trip should temper Smashville expectations.
Sit back for the long season. Continue making Bridgestone Arena by far the greatest environment to watch a hockey game. But don’t expect a certain outcome. Will Nashville be one of the top teams in the Central Division? Most likely. But right now, there are 29 other fan bases who think “this is the year” (I know, there are 30 other teams, but c’mon…if you’re in Arizona, do you REALLY think the Coyotes are going to do…anything) (Editor’s note: Yes, Justin does 😉 ).
That’s enough to be excited about the long road ahead.