By John Smith (@John_Smith426)
Year in and year out when the playoffs begin, there is always a few guys that surprise you. Lets take a close look at who MUST be the heroes for the Predators in order to finally find success in the postseason.
1. Filip Forsberg
We have all heard of playoff Wilson, but how does playoff Forsberg sound? While we all know how dominant this guy can be in the regular season, he has yet to break out and take over a series like we all know he’s capable of. With 10 points, (6g, 4a) in 20 career playoff games the suave Swede has shown flashes of what he can do, including a hat trick against the Blackhawks in 2015. Last year, after the playoffs were over it was discovered that Forsberg was dealing with a back issue. Seemingly healthy now, and peaking at the right time, Smashville needs our young star to help Nashville kick in the door of the 3rd round and to help us move into the Stanley Cup final.
2. Ryan Johansen
Last year when the puck dropped in the first round against the Anaheim Ducks, Nashville was able to experience something we never have before. Not only was the crowd cheering on our Predators at a deafening tone, we saw what it was like to be able to roll out a legit top-line center in Ryan Johansen. Also, like Forsberg, with 20 career playoff games Johansen has been able to manage 14 points (6g, 8a). While those are very decent numbers, your top-pivot man needs to be able to take over and be a little closer to a point a game to find success. If the JOFA line stays intact, it wouldn’t be a stretch at all to see Johansen among the top centers league-wide in playoff scoring this year.
3. Playoff Wilson
Colin who? Nashville is about to roll right into the playoffs, so let’s ditch his birth name and go with his official/unofficial Smashville nickname. Playoff Wilson is literally nothing like his evil twin Colin. While Colin will let you down, and you find yourself screaming at your TV just asking yourself why, Playoff Wilson rises to the occasion time in and time out and just grabs that extra gear David Poile saw in him when he selected him 7th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Level draft. With 18 points in his last 20 career playoff games, Playoff Wilson is the hero Smashville needs, and deserves quite frankly.
4. Roman Josi and PK Subban
With much respect to their other halves, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis, these are the two of the best defenceman in the NHL. It was such a slow start for the Predators defence corps, and once the top-four got rolling, you had better had a good plan to stop them or you were absolutely toast. Roman Josi has quietly moved into the top 5 in team scoring this season with 47 points, and PK Subban sits third in points for Nashville defenders with 36 in just 61 games. In the playoffs you better bring it, and these guys have gotten red hot at the right time.
5. Pekka Rinne
Where do I even start with this guy? Pekka Rinne has been an absolute workhorse for the Predators, and earlier in his career was one of the best players we’ve had the opportunity to see in Nashville. While he basically stole the Detroit series in 2012, he’s often been outplayed by the opposing teams goalies since. With Juuse Saros sitting there and waiting, hopefully Nashville can have Pekka play like a $7 million goalie, because if he fails to deliver Nashville may be forced to turn to Saros looking to ignite the team.
With playoff matchups still a little bit in the air, don’t worry about the outcomes if these guys can get going. West coast trip, or the Blackhawks, it really doesn’t matter. If the above mentioned can take over and dominate at the right time, Nashville has the capabilities to swing with the heaviest hitters of the NHL.