Thursday, September 8, 2011

Predators Pre-Season Preview Blogger Roundtable

With players returning to nashville and the start of training camp just days away, it's time to look ahead to the upcoming season. What better way to do that than to ask some of the best bloggers that cover the Predators to participate in a preseason blogapalooza.

The View is pleased to welcome Amada Dipaolo of Inside Smashville; Jim Diamond of the Nashville Examiner; Buddy Oakes of Preds on the Glass; Dirk Hoag of On the Forecheck; Jeremy Gover of Cellblock 303; Pattten Fuqua of; Kris Martel of The Predatorial; Ryan Porth of RLD Hockey; and AJ of Pull My (Fang) Finger as particpants. Each of these fine writers offers an unique perspective on the Predators, and I encourage my readers to regularly view their blogs.

So what do you say we jump right into the deep end and ask this group "What do you expect out of the Predators this season?"

Jeremy Gover

I expect the Predators to challenge for the Central Division crown. The Chicago Blackhawks can score a ton of goals but they also give up a lot of them too. The Detroit Red Wings are getting older and have to hit a wall at some point. Plus, their starting goaltender Jimmy Howard suffered through some nagging injuries last year and it'll be interesting to see if he can stay healthy. The St. Louis Blues will be better but may still fall just short of the playoffs. And the Columbus Blue Jackets..... they'll be picking first in the 2012 NHL Draft. In short, the Preds will challenge for the Central.

Dirk Hoag

I think this will be a transitional season for the team, with so many rookies and 2nd-year players being asked to assume major responsibilities. While I could see them scoring about as many goals as they did last year, my concern is on the defensive side, and whether there's enough experience up and down the roster to play a typically disciplined style of Predators hockey. It will be up to Pekka Rinne to do the heavy lifting once again, as at least in goal, Nashville will have an edge on the rest of the Central.

Buddy Oakes
I actually expect the Predators to have the best season in franchise history. If you look at the process of the transformation of the team since the lockout, with few exceptions they have progressed each year.

In 2010, the team should have gotten past Chicago and to a man, they realized that it was their own fault that they didn’t. Last year, after winning the first round, they were not ready for game one against Vancouver and that loss (plus Ryan Kesler’s best series ever) sent them home for the summer, but more lessons were learned.

If you look at the natural progression of the players that they have on the team headed into camp, they should more than adequately compensate for the players that left for higher salaries through free agency.

Patten Fuqua

The coming season is a mystery wrapped up in an enigma crossed with a riddle. While the Predators have lost several key players - notably Goc, Ward, Franson, O'Brien and Sullivan - they have not made any outside moves of much significance. While picking up Niclas Bergfors might have been the steal of the offseason, it appears that most of the players that departed will be replaced from within. Of course, we've been down this road before. The leading scorers are still around...and many people tend to forget that Sullivan and Goc were hurt for a large portion of the latter part of the season. Considering that, I expect the Predators to squeak into a 7th or 8th place playoff spot.

Amanda Dipaolo

The Predators are a team that continuously do a lot with a little. I expect no different this upcoming season. That said, for a team that prides itself on being predominately a home-grown team, I would hope some of the Predators youngsters step up to replace a Steve Sullivan or a J.P. Dumont, both one-time key players to the organization.


Ah, a pregnant question from the get-go! Well, what we expect and what get  from the Preds are often governed by one thing and one thing only: injuries. Last year's squad clearly out-kicked their coverage in making it into the playoffs, due to the inordinate number of injuries they sustained all season long. If they can repeat that ability to be resilient and overcome obstacles, I expect nothing less than another second round appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However this will be  a younger team from the start and that could have a major effect on their response to adversity. nonetheless I expect the experience the entire organization had from last season will give them an expectation for success like never before, and that too could be a huge dynamic in the team's performance

(The View claims no responibility for the paternity of the question)

Ryan Porth

The same we have seen over the last three or four years.  I am a believer in that playoff success one year doesn’t translate to regular season success the next.  In all likelihood, the Preds will be on the bubble all year, make a move at the trade deadline and barely survive the Western Conference to claim the 7 or 8 seed.  For the Preds to compete for the division crown, Pekka Rinne will have to perform like he did last year and every single forward will have to (a) be at their best and (b) stay healthy

Kris Martel

I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised this season. Nashville is essentially bringing the same players back this year as they had last season and they all know how close they were to going much further in the playoffs a few months ago. A bounce here or a bounce there and Nashville would have most likely dispatched Vancouver in the second round. Did they? No, but Nashville is definitely on the right track.

The youth that Nashville has in their organization mixed with the current veteran presence that is already established in the club makes the Predators one of those teams that could possibly have “all of their ducks in a row”, if you know what I mean. Are the Predators a Stanley Cup contender? I don’t believe so with their current lineup, however I feel that they are definitely a playoff contender and probably ONE single puzzle piece away from being that Cup contender.

Jim Diamond

I expect more of the same from the 2011-12 Predators as we have seen in recent seasons past. While the goaltending and defense will again be strong, this team will struggle to score goals and that will leave them fighting for one of the last couple of Western Conference playoff spots at the end of the season.

So there you have it. The view of this group is that the Predators can be anything from contending for a playoff spot to making a deep playoff run. I agree with the concensus that this team can make the playoffs. I do think Ryan has hit upon a key point, and that this team will have to stay healthy to be in playoff contention.

Up next in part 2 of our roundtable will be a discussion of whether or not the young guys are ready for prime time.

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