» By TRENT SINGER – firstname.lastname@example.org
The NHL regular season came to an end on Saturday, April 7, as each team in playoff contention attempted to improve or secure a playoff seed in this year’s quest for the Stanley Cup.
The Predators enter into their seventh playoff series in eight seasons with three consecutive April wins.
Throughout the three game series, Nashville outscored its opponents by a combined 10-2. The most impressive victory came in the regular season finale at Denver, where the Predators sent a message to the rest of the remaining playoff teams with a 6-1 victory over the Avalanche.
Nashville, who ended the season with the sixth-highest point total in the NHL (104), will now take on the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday, April 11.
The two division rivals split this year’s head-to-head games, 3-3, and are very evenly matched teams.
There are several other teams entering the playoffs with late-season success, including the Phoenix Coyotes, whose five-game winning streak propelled them to their Pacific Division title since relocating from Winnipeg to Phoenix.
In the Eastern Conference, the New Jersey Devils secured the sixth seed in the playoffs with six straight wins, including a 4-2 victory over Ottawa in Saturday’s regular season finale.
The No. 1 seeds are represented by the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference and the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference.
Although the regular season has come to an end, hockey fans anticipate a wild postseason. With this year’s intriguing first-round matchups, the battle for professional sports’ most sacred trophy should be rather entertaining.
If the regular season is any indication of what the playoffs might hold, the Predators should have a slight edge over the Red Wings in this year’s matchup.
The key for Nashville is consistency. With defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, along with Pekka Rinne, Nashville has the ability to shut down nearly every offense in the NHL.
The problem has been the team’s inability to remain consistent throughout the year.
Expect the Red Wings to play with a more aggressive approach in the playoffs. If the Predators can control the tempo and play dominant defense, expect them to win this series with ease.
The Red Wings will force this series into seven games, but I expect Nashville’s defensive leadership to guide the Predators to their second consecutive first-round victory. TAS