The Nashville Predators are happy after winning their first
playoff series in their sixth try, and they’re also far from
Nobody remembers who wins in the first round, defenseman Ryan
Suter said, so there’s no time for the young Predators to start
”If we win the Stanley Cup, then sure,” Suter said.
The small-market team in the nontraditional hockey market has
bigger goals after being eliminated early in the playoffs six of
the past seven seasons.
”Now we’re making history,” coach Barry Trotz said. ”We’re a
young franchise that is trying to go deep.”
Trotz gave the Predators the day off Monday following a physical
and bruising opening series against the Anaheim Ducks. Nashville
closed it out with a 4-2 win in Game 6 on Sunday and now has to
wait to see if it will begin the Western Conference semifinals at
Vancouver or Detroit.
These Predators, who went into the postseason as the West’s No.
5 seed, are playing even better than they did in finishing off the
”Exciting for them. They’ve drafted great for a long time,”
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Monday. ”Every year, I hear
Nashville has overachieved, and yet, when I see their lineup at the
start of the year, I wonder how a team with Pekka Rinne in net,
(Shea) Weber and Suter on the back end overachieved? To me, that
seems to be like the best. Good for Trotz and those guys. (general
manager) Dave Poile has done a good job.”
Nashville closed the season with a flourish, averaging 3.33
goals in the final 15 games, and carried it over to the playoffs.
It scored 22 goals in six games against Anaheim, and the only
Predators who played in the series and didn’t record a point were
backup goalie Anders Lindback and defenseman Shane O’Brien.
The Predators got six points from Mike Fisher and five from
captain Weber. They also got a career-best five points from Jordin
Tootoo, who had assists on the winning goals in Games 5 and 6.
”We scored more goals in the series than we ever have and gave
up more goals than we ever have,” Trotz said. ”So it was a
totally different animal to slay if you will.”
Trotz calls it the Predator way, and it certainly has worked for
the franchise that still has the same coach and general manager
that started the team that hit the ice in 1998-99. Poile has built
Nashville mostly through the draft, with forward David Legwand, who
capped Sunday’s win with an empty-net goal, his first pick.
Poile’s work in building this roster made him a finalist for
general manager of the year.
The roster also features other draft picks, including Rinne, a
Vezina Trophy finalist. Weber became a Norris Trophy finalist on
Monday. Defenseman Jonathon Blum and forward Blake Geoffrion helped
Nashville finish the season with the NHL’s fifth-youngest active
roster with an average age of 26 years, 140 days.
Poile also landed left wing Sergei Kostitsyn, brought in last
offseason from Montreal, and O’Brien through trades. His biggest
move came Feb. 10 when he sent his first-round pick this June and
what will now be a third-round pick in 2012 to Ottawa for center
Trotz repeatedly has mentioned the local ownership group’s
support for making that deal happen.
”We don’t even get in the playoffs without the commitment of
getting Mike Fisher in this deal … A lot of people say you have
to do a little different than we do, but it’s about winning for
us,” Trotz said. ”It’s not about salary caps. It’s about winning,
getting players here and getting the win. … Players love to play
here. This city is a fantastic city with a great fan base.”
AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this