Music City Magic: Why the Nashville Predators are suddenly Stanley Cup contenders

Joe Espy, Reporter

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On July 29th of last year the Nashville Predators completed a blockbuster trade sending all-star defenseman Shea Weber to the Canadiens for defenseman P.K Subban, an all-star himself. This made many Nashville fans question the direction of the team considering Weber had been their franchise player for many years.

For a franchise that has failed to make it past the second round of the playoffs in eight appearances, Coach Peter Laviolette was determined to take the next step in 2017. The 2017 campaign saw the Predators thrive with their defensive mentality and the emergence of their top line made up of Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and Viktor Arvidsson.

Nashville played with great consistency throughout the season avoiding injuries and ended up in the second wild card, finishing with 94 points in a tough division.

Entering a first round matchup against the top seeded Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago was heavily favored due to their playoff experience and great regular season success. But it was the Predators who set the tone early with their aggressive and strong defensive play.

Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne made 59 combined saves to go along with two shutouts as the Predators took the first two games in Chicago. With the series shifting down to Tennessee, the Predators continued to click on all cylinders.

The Blackhawks scored their first goal of the series in game 3 but Nashville was able to outlast them in overtime winning 3-2 on a winning goal by Kevin Fiala. The Predators completed the sweep at home courtesy of two goals by defenseman Roman Josi and another solid performance by Rinne, who made 30 saves.

Once overlooked as an underdog, Nashville suddenly is as hot as anyone. With a match-up against either the Minnesota Wild or St. Louis Blues, will anyone be able to stop this Predators team?