When the city of Nashville was awarded a Stanley Cup team in 1998, very few fans paid attention to hockey’s latest expansion team. That didn’t change much for the city and team through the franchise’s first 17 seasons. Despite recording five 100-point regular seasons and qualifying for the postseason nine times, the Predators only won three playoff series and never advanced beyond the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. – Colton Sissons notched the second hat trick in Predators postseason history, joining teammate Filip Forsberg from 2015 against Chicago. He also joined the likes of Hall-of-Famers Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri and Mike Bossy in recording a hat trick in a Conference Finals clincher.
Entering this season the Predators were one of five current franchises to not reach a Stanley Cup. Now, only Winnipeg, Columbus, Minnesota and Phoenix (Poor Winnipeg gets the worst of it, cause they are involved in two of those franchises as the Phoenix Coyotes were the original Winnipeg Jets and the original Atlanta Thrashers are the “new” Winnipeg Jets).
So, what exactly changed this postseason for the 8th seed in the Western Conference? Why did the owner of three total playoff series round wins, equal that total this postseason?
Equal Scoring – Last night, Colton Sissons became the second Nashville player to record two game-winning goals this postseason. He and James Neal are the only players to record more than one GW goal this postseason. In the last five seasons, the only teams with more players scoring game-winning goals in the playoffs than the 2017 Predators won the Stanley Cup (2016 Penguins and 2014 Kings, both with 11 players).
Great Goaltending – Pekka Rinne has a .941 save percentage entering the Stanley Cup Finals, to go along with a 1.70 GAA and two shutouts. His .941 save percentage ranks as the 4th best mark in the last 30 postseasons. Overall, the Predators 1.81 GAA is the lowest in the postseason.
Even Strength Scoring – Although the Predators have only outscored the Ducks and Blues in the last two rounds by five goals combined in even strength situations, they dominated the Blackhawks, outscoring them 12-1 in the Predators opening round four-game sweep of the number one seed in the Western Conference
Even Strength Goal Differential By Round Nashville Predators, 2017 Postseason
Conference Finals Anaheim +4
Second Round St. Louis +1
First Round Chicago +11
Home Ice Domination – The Predators are 7-1 at home in this postseason, outscoring their opponents by a 25-13 score. Before their 3-2 OT loss in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals, the Predators had won 10 straight playoff games at home. That’s the longest streak by any team since the Red Wings also won 10 straight during the 1997-98 postseason and it’s tied for the 8th-longest home playoff winning streak in the expansion era (since 1967-68). Also, entering that Game Four the Predators had allowed exactly 1 goal in 5 straight home playoff games. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that the last team to allow no more than one goal in 5+ straight home playoff games was the Maple Leafs (5 straight in 2004 postseason); the last to do it in 6+ straight home playoff games was the 1996-97 Avalanche (8 straight).
Head Coach Who Has Playoff Success – Peter Laviolette is the fourth different coach to lead three different teams to Stanley Cup Final. Laviolette won with 2006 Hurricanes and lost with 2010 Flyers. He’s the first American to do it.
Head Coaches to Take 3 Different Teams to Stanley Cup Final
Peter Laviolette<< Hurricanes, Flyers, Predators
Scotty Bowman Blues, Canadiens, Penguins, Red Wings
Mike Keenan Flyers, Blackhawks, Rangers
Dick Irvin Black Hawks, Maple Leafs, Canadiens
>Only U.S.-born coach
The Predators will open the Stanley Cup Final on Monday at either the Penguins or Senators. They are trying to become the first team from Tennessee in the four major North American pro sports to win a title. Although they did not have a team until 1997, Tennessee is the only state with three active major pro sports teams and no championship.
Major Pro Sports in Tennessee
1st Season Titles
Titans 1997 0
Predators 1998-99 0
Grizzlies 2001-02 0
>>Only state with 3 active pro teams and 0 title