After making the Stanley Cup Final two seasons ago, and winning the Presidents’ Trophy last season as the NHL’s top regular season team, the Nashville Predators carried the weight of great expectations into this season.
Through multiple injuries to key players, the Predators have treaded water this season while on pace for 100 points, 17 fewer than last season but still respectable. And yet the feeling when you follow Predators media and the fanbase on social media is one of mediocrity, with the Predators failing to meet the high standard expected of them.
For the first half of the season or so, injuries were a good excuse, one that I find wholly legitimate when you consider the players who missed time. Viktor Arvidsson played just 13 games before Dec. 27 and missed 24 games this season, P.K. Subban has missed 19 games, Filip Forsberg has missed 17, and Kyle Turris has missed 25 games. That’s a huge chunk of the Predators’ core missing time, a lot of it concurrently.
When looking at whether the Predators are contenders once again this season, we have to take into account those injuries and their impact on the underlying performance metrics of the team. Subban and Arvidsson returned to the lineup on Dec. 27, while Forsberg returned Jan. 7, so I think it’s fair to split the season at the new year, with the knowledge that Turris only recently returned to the lineup.
How do the Predators look at even strength with a mostly healthy lineup compared to the injury-riddled team we’ve seen most of the season?