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
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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

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STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 26 37 15 63
M. Ribeiro 82 15 47 11 62
R. Josi 81 15 40 15 55
S. Weber 78 15 30 15 45
C. Smith 82 23 21 11 44
C. Wilson 77 20 22 19 42
M. Fisher 59 19 20 4 39
J. Neal 67 23 14 12 37
R. Ellis 58 9 18 8 27
S. Jones 82 8 19 3 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 41 17 6 .923 2.18
C. Hutton 6 7 4 .902 2.61