NHL.com: Why Nashville will win the Cup

Sunday, 04.8.2012 / 2:55 PM CT / Nashville Predators Playoffs Coverage
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NHL.com: Why Nashville will win the Cup

The Nashville Predators have been consistent postseason participants, but winning a series for the first time in franchise history was a big step forward in 2011. There were some key additions during this regular season, and, as a result, the Predators took the next step and became a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

Now all that is left is winning the thing.

Shea Weber
Shea Weber
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 3
SOG: 33 | +/-: -1
The Big Why: Everything with Nashville starts with their own version of a "Big Three" -- goaltender Pekka Rinne plus defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. No other team in the League can match Nashville's combo of No. 1 goaltender and top two defensemen. They are the backbone of an elite goal-prevention outfit.

They will have a little help in that department, and some added playoff experience with the addition of veteran Hal Gill. There is also depth on defense -- Nashville has at least nine defensemen that coach Barry Trotz would feel comfortable playing if needed.

The Big Uh-Oh: The biggest issue in years past for Nashville has been at the other end of the ice. The Predators did a great job of stifling the Sedin twins and holding the Vancouver Canucks to just 14 goals in six games during the second round last season. Nashville didn't score nearly enough to upset the Cancuks, producing more than two goals only once during the series.

That said, scoring is less of an issue in Smashville. The Predators were No. 21 during the regular season in goals last year, but improved to No. 9 during the 2011-12 campaign. The Predators have 10 guys with at least 13 goals this season, and there is plenty of depth and variety at forward for Trotz to choose from.

Patric Hornqvist
Patric Hornqvist
Right Wing - NSH
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 4
SOG: 36 | +/-: 1
Patric Hornqvist and Mike Fisher combined for 50 goals. Paul Gaustad was a nice addition to help win faceoffs and add some offense from the bottom six. The Kostitsyn brothers are back together, and both have played well in Nashville.

Final Argument: Nashville can stop teams from scoring. The Predators have proven they can score goals ... in the regular season. They'll need to do so in the postseason.

Then there is the wild card -- Alexander Radulov. Nashville might have been one gamebreaker short despite all of its depth, but not anymore. Radulov was a solid, young player with potential a few years ago, but now he's matured. He could be the final piece for a team capable of winning the Stanley Cup.

Author: Corey Masisak | NHL.com Staff Writer

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 56 36 16 4 158 128 76
2 DAL 53 33 15 5 170 142 71
3 STL 55 30 17 8 132 129 68
4 LAK 51 31 17 3 135 117 65
5 SJS 51 27 20 4 147 138 58
6 NSH 53 25 20 8 136 139 58
7 COL 55 27 24 4 148 152 58
8 ANA 51 25 19 7 113 121 57
9 MIN 52 23 20 9 127 126 55
10 ARI 52 24 22 6 138 161 54
11 VAN 52 20 20 12 120 142 52
12 CGY 51 23 25 3 134 148 49
13 WPG 52 23 26 3 136 150 49
14 EDM 54 21 28 5 132 164 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Josi 53 10 27 -2 37
S. Weber 53 14 21 -4 35
F. Forsberg 53 15 18 -6 33
M. Ribeiro 53 6 27 3 33
J. Neal 53 19 13 18 32
M. Ekholm 53 6 16 3 22
R. Ellis 52 6 15 2 21
C. Smith 53 11 6 -1 17
C. Jarnkrok 52 9 7 0 16
C. Wilson 36 4 12 0 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 20 17 7 .904 2.50
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36