The Nashville Predators kick off their 2017-18 NHL season tonight against the Boston Bruins. Listen to the Predators’ flagship ESPN 102.5 The Game all season long to keep up with Smashville’s pursuit of Lord Stanley’s Cup.
What can be expected from the Predators this season? Here’s what national experts are saying.
Two of USA Today’s experts believe the Predators will be Western Conference Champions and three analysts selected the Preds to win the Central Division. In USA Today’s “Semi-scientific” Point Projection, the Preds were projected to score 103 points en route to winning the Central Division. Point projections estimate only the Edmonton Oilers will tally more points than Nashville in the Western Conference.
“The Nashville Predators should go one step further in their quest for a Stanley Cup by winning their own, as forecasted by two panelists”
“The Nashville Predators are a trendy pick to win the Stanley Cup. They have one of the NHL’s top defenses, and goalie Pekka Rinne showed in last spring’s playoffs that he can carry a team for two months.”
Sportsnet utilized statistical analytics to evaluate how the NHL season will shake out. According to their models, Nashville will finish fifth in the Western Conference with 95 points and second in the Central Division.
Quick Quote: “None of the models foresee them as a top contender in the Western Conference, but they should make the playoffs again.”
However, two of their experts predicted a Western Conference Championship and one picked the Preds to be Stanley Cup Champions, but three Experts said the Predators are “Most Likely Team to Disappoint”.
None of ESPN’s NHL analysts believe the Predators will win the Stanley Cup, Western Conference, or Central Division.
Quick Quote: “When you are two wins away from winning the Stanley Cup, you don’t really need to do much to get better. But the big unknown is whether P.K. Subban and the goaltending can survive the absence of a key teammate to injury.”
Hockey News reported the Predators’ Stanley Cup odds are 13-1 this season. THN predicts Nashville to finish second in the Central Division.
Quick Quote: “Nashville’s defense alone makes them an upper-echelon squad in the Western Conference, and if the youngsters step up, the Predators will have some surprising scoring to add to their defensive depth.”
Sporting News anticipates Nashville winning the Central with 100 points – followed closely by the Stars and Blues with 99 points. Brandon Schlager crowns the Preds as Stanley Cup Champions, forecasting them to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Cup. Schlager was the only Sporting News analyst to pick the Preds to reach the Conference Finals.
Quick Quote: “Will the Predators feed off the momentum, or tire out? We’re banking on the former, even if the loss of Ryan Ellis for half the season could set Nashville back in a division race where every win will count.”
Quick Quote: “Last year’s Western Conference champions will hover at third in the Central Division this year. The loss of James Neal to Vegas will hurt the offense, and Ryan Ellis’ injury will do them no favors on defense. Even still, the Predators boast some of the best blue line talent in the league, and that will carry them once again to the postseason.”
Puck Daddy sees the Preds placing third in the Central, but returning to the Conference Finals then ultimately losing to the Oilers.
NHL.com’s panel consists of 18 NHL experts; three of which envision the Preds as a wild card team, two experts picked the Preds to win the Western Conference, one expert went all the way with Preds winning the Cup. Of 18 experts on their panel, only one believes the Preds won’t make the playoffs.
Quick Quote: “Nashville, the Stanley Cup finalist from the West last season, received two votes to repeat as conference champion and one vote to go all the way for the first time in its history.”
CBS analysts predicted the Predators to finish fourth and seventh in the Western Conference.
Quick Quote:“You would be hard pressed to find a team built better both to contend now and in the future. They lost some veterans, and it’s going to be hard to replicate how they peaked in 2016-17. But their core is energetic playoff material.”
Quick Quote: “Coming off a rousing Stanley Cup Final run, the Predators will miss the playoffs. No Ryan Ellis until 2018, plus no James Neal or Mike Fisher. That’s a lot of pressure on players like $64 million man Ryan Johansen. It’s also not unprecedented: Peter Laviolette’s Hurricanes team won the Stanley Cup in 2006 and missed the following year.”