Franchise Best: Nashville Predators 2016-17 Season

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NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 22: The Nashville Predators celebrate after defeating the Anaheim Ducks 6 to 3 in Game Six of the Western Conference Final during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 22, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Sanford Myers/Getty Images)

The Franchise Best Series comes to you to dive into the all-time best single season for every organization. This, of course, includes post-season results. Join us for a look back at some of the most memorable moments in each franchise’s history. Here is the Nashville Predators best season.

The 2016-17 season was the best in Nashville Predators history. The team was the eighth seed in the Western Conference, but Nashville roared to the Stanley Cup Final and came two games away from lifting the vaunted trophy.

Nashville Predators 2016-17 Season

The Previous Season

Nashville was eliminated in the second round by the San Jose Sharks in seven games. The Predators were blanked 5-0 in the season finale and didn’t look like the team that bounced the Anaheim Ducks in the first round.

There seemed to be offensive punch missing from the club and that would play into general manager David Poile’s off-season plans. They had to get faster and add some more scoring pop.

Off-Season Acquisitions

The biggest and most surprising move was trading franchise stalwart and captain Shea Weber to the Montreal Canadiens for the dynamic P.K. Subban. It was a trade that sent shockwaves throughout the league.

Poile also added two more defencemen with Matt Irwin and another Weber…. Yannick Weber. Harry Zolnierczyk was also signed from the minors and would make some timely contributions.

Key Storylines

A Deep Defence

Adding Subban arguably improved a solid defence, but there was concern about how he would gel with Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis. Many pegged Subban and Josi to be a super-fast pairing, but Subban settled in Ekholm while Josi paired with Ellis.

There were some initial growing pains, but the blueliners played a huge role in Nashville’s late-season push and playoff run.

Peter Laviolette Gets 500 Wins

Longtime coach Peter Laviolette reached the 500-win mark in the Predators January 22nd victory over the Minnesota Wild. Nashville had a rough patch in November with a 2-5-1 mark, but January was the start of the turnaround that got them into the playoffs.

Laviolette brought a faster style of pay than former coach Barry Trotz and the team was finally getting it. They’d become a menace to teams with their new-found offensive freedom.

Top Scorers

Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg tied for the team led with 31 goals. James Neal added another 23 goals while Mike Fisher supplied 18 goals. Ryan Johansen led the team in assists with 47.

Ellis scored the most goals by a defender with 16 and Josi contributed 12 goals and 37 assists for 49 points.

In-Season Additions

Poile made a couple of in-season trades to try and give the team some grit in acquiring Cody McLeod from the Colorado Avalanche for Felix Girard. The Nashville GM also shipped a fourth-round pick in 2017 for Vernon Fiddler, and he’d also send a sixth-rounder in 2017 to the Devils for P.A. Parenteau.

Playoff Performers

Forsberg led the way with nine goals, including the first-ever hat trick in franchise history against the Chicago Blackhawks. However, the Predators would get some unexpected offence from Colton Sissons, who added six goals and six assists for 12 points.

Neal and Josi added another six goals while Arvidsson, Ekholm and Subban each generated 10 assists. Goalie Pekka Rinne improved on his regular season with a 14-8 record, .929 save percentage and 1.96 goals-against-average. The Finnish goalie also collected two shutouts, which both happened in the opening two games of the playoffs.

The Playoffs

First Round vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Nashville got in as the No. 16 overall seed and top-seeded Chicago was expected by many to challenge for the title again. However, Rinne and the Predators shockingly swept the Blackhawks in four straight games. Kevin Fiala’s goal gave Nashville a 3-0 series lead and it finished off the series in Game 4.

The Predators limited the usually potent Hawks offence to just three goals. Not many expected a Nashville win let alone a sweep.

Second Round vs. St. Louis Blues

Nashville got the road split that most teams that start away from home need as it took Game 1, 4-3, over the St. Louis Blues. Rinne then allowed only one goal in the two games at Bridgestone Arena. The Blues extended the series with a 2-1 win in St. Louis. However, they couldn’t delay the inevitable as Rinne put up another sterling performance.

Western Conference Final vs. Anaheim Ducks

Nashville reached the conference final for the first time in franchise history and Neal scored 9:24 into overtime to give it their first victory that late in the postseason. The Ducks won Game 2 before splitting both games in Nashville. However, the Predators turned up the pressure in Games 5 and 6 to continue their milestone season.

Rinne was once again almost unbeatable in Game 5 while Sissons capped off the Western final with a hattrick. The Predators became the third team to reach the Stanley Cup Final as a No. 8 seed. The 2006 Edmonton Oilers and 2012 Los Angeles Kings.

Unfortunately, the Predators would lose Ryan Johansen in the series. The team would go on to fight for the Cup without their number one centre.

Stanley Cup Final

The magical run would end against the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, who won in six games. Nashville won its first Stanley Cup Final game in Game 3 with a 5-1 victory. The Predators tied the series at 2 with a 4-1 win. Pittsburgh then routed Nashville, 6-0, before clinching the Cup with a 2-0 win at Bridgestone Arena.

End Result

The Predators didn’t the championship they wanted, but they were able to show the world it was a hockey city. Media members and opposing fans raved about the atmosphere and the unique chants.

The playoff run showed that Nashville had the ability to be a contender for a long time.

Other nominees

Nashville won the President’s Trophy in 2017-18, but its run to the Cup was stopped after losing to the Winnipeg Jets in Game 7 of the conference semifinal.

 

Main Photo: NASHVILLE, TN – MAY 22: The Nashville Predators celebrate after defeating the Anaheim Ducks 6 to 3 in Game Six of the Western Conference Final during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 22, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Sanford Myers/Getty Images)

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