It takes a lot of things to go right for a team to make a deep playoff run in the NHL, especially when coming into the postseason as the lowest ranked team in the conference. The Nashville Predators were that team in the West, securing the final playoff spot and landing a first round series against the top ranked Chicago Blackhawks. Most people in the know believed that it would be a short postseason appearance for the Predators, but they swept Chicago and have now rolled all the way to the Western Conference Final. This is a team that looks like the real deal, so let’s look at 5 reasons why the Nashville Predators have been so successful though the playoffs. Find the updated NHL betting odds here.
Analyzing The Five Keys To Predators Surprise Run In 2017 NHL Playoffs
There are several great reasons why the Predators have had success in the playoffs, but it all begins with the man between the pipes. Pekka Rinne started the playoffs by posting back to back shutouts against the Blackhawks, and has since gone on to post a staggering 1.66 GAA and a .950 save percentage. He’s really only has one bad outing, which is amazing considering the offenses that he has had to face.
This has very much been a team effort from the Predators, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the Plus/Minus standings. Nashville has 3 players in the top 5 this postseason, which is in large part thanks to the fact that they are just not giving up a lot of goals.
The Predators are not a team that scores a lot of goals, which means that they need to be incredibly stingy on defense. One of the best ways to do that is to limit the number of opportunities that opponents get every single game, which can best be done by staying out of the penalty box. Of the 4 teams remaining in the playoffs, the Predators are far and away the least penalized, with just 114 minutes in penalties through 14 games. This has been particularly crucial, as they have the worst penalty kill percentage of the remaining 4 teams.
Peter Laviolette may not be as big a household name as some of the other coaches in this league, but his experience and leadership have been a big part of the success of the Predators. It’s easy to forget that he already has a Stanley Cup ring to his name, taking the Carolina Hurricanes to the promised land in 2006.
Mix of Youth and Experience
While the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs proved that you can have some success with a young squad, they also showed that there are limits to how far you can go. Playoff experience is one of the big intangibles in hockey, and the Predators brass have done a stellar job in building a team that has just the right mix of young an experienced. The acquisition of PK Subban is one that looks like a genius move right now.