After Monday’s 1-0 win over the Minnesota Wild, the Nashville Predators punched their ticket to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
For this team and this season, this was an inevitability. With the roster this team has, going to the playoffs was the bare minimum for having a successful season. If they hadn’t made the playoffs, there would be a problem.
Still, going to the playoffs isn’t easy and it should be celebrated for what it means.
The Predators have reached the postseason in all five seasons under Peter Laviolette. When Laviolette was hired in the summer of 2014, he was expected to take this team to the next level. He’s certainly done that.
Under Barry Trotz, the team reached the postseason seven times out of fifteen tries. That’s not bad for an expansion franchise (especially one that started prior to the lockout), but it’s a reminder that qualifying for the playoffs is not a guarantee. It’s easy for a franchise to get itself into a cycle where the playoffs aren’t even a possibility.
Most teams don’t have the same kind of regular season success that the Predators have had. Consider this stat provided by the Preds’ PR department:
After missing out during their first five NHL seasons, the #Preds have qualified for the playoffs in 12 of the past 15 campaigns dating to 2003-04. As of March 25, only three teams have as many postseason trips in that span: San Jose (14), Detroit (12) and Pittsburgh (12).
— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) March 26, 2019
Being one of only a handful of teams to qualify for the playoffs that many times is impressive. It’s not a Stanley Cup, it’s not a President’s Trophy, it’s not a division win, but it’s still impressive.
Take for example other sports teams in the area, particularly ones that we cover here at A to Z Sports. When looking at the frequency of “postseason appearances” since 1998 (the Predators’ first season) the Predators’ consistency puts them right at the top
- Tennessee Volunteers (football): 14 appearances (21 seasons) and one National Championship
- Nashville Predators: 12 appearances (20 seasons) and one Stanley Cup runner up
- Tennessee Volunteers (basketball): 12 appearances (21 seasons)
- Vanderbilt Commodores (basketball): 8 appearances (21 seasons)
- Tennessee Titans: 7 appearances (21 seasons) and one Super Bowl runner up
- Vanderbilt Commodores (football): 6 appearances (21 seasons)
We could argue all day about how different these sports are in terms of qualifying for the postseason. Yes, they are very different, and have very different circumstances and expectations. Winning in college football is extremely difficult, and you don’t have as many chances to pile up wins in a season to get to a bowl game. It’s a similar situation for the Titans.
But in hockey, you have to be better than most of the league for 82 games. For six months, you have to be on your game. The players and coaches that this franchise has acquired over the years all understand that and they’ve made it happen.
This is a testament to David Poile. The decisions he’s made to keep this team so competitive over the last 20 seasons is admirable. Keeping Barry Trotz for as long as he did is something that not all GMs would do. Hiring Peter Laviolette, a coach who had been fired twice in five years, was a risk, but it has paid off. Signing important players like Mike Fisher, Pekka Rinne, Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and so many others took intelligent decision making and business acumen.
So, don’t ignore this accomplishment by the Nashville Predators. For fans of the team, it’s something to be proud of.
— Featured image Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports —