Saturday, August 18, 2018

Three questions facing Nashville Predators

1. Can Pekka Rinne replicate his Vezina Trophy season?
Along with excellent defensive play, the Predators got stellar goaltending last season from Rinne, who won the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender in the NHL by going 42-13-4 with a 2.31 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. 
Rinne, who turns 36 on Nov. 3, doesn't necessarily need to win the Vezina Trophy again for Nashville to be successful, but similar production again would bolster its defense.
Backup Juuse Saros played 26 games last season and could play more than 30 this season. That should lighten Rinne's workload and keep him fresh.
2. Will Filip Forsberg emerge as a top offensive threat?
The Predators historically have relied more on their depth and offense from their defensemen than they have an elite forward. Can Forsberg be that forward this season?
The 24-year-old has scored at least 26 goals in each of the past four seasons and had 64 points (26 goals, 38 assists) in 67 games last season. He had 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Forsberg could approach 35 goals and 80 points this season if he stays healthy. He missed 15 games last season with an undisclosed injury after playing 82 games in each of the previous three seasons.
3. Can Nashville's center depth help them win the Stanley Cup?
The Predators are built on strong defense and goaltending but are deep at center with Ryan Johansen, Kyle Turris, Calle Jarnkrok, Nick Bonino and Colton Sissons, However, they were outplayed by Winnipeg Jets centers during a seven-game loss in the Western Conference Second Round.
Predators centers combined for 190 points (67 goals, 123 assists) last season. If they can get consistent production from the position this season, they should be deep enough to compete for the Stanley Cup. If they don't, it will be hard to manufacture enough offense to win.

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