Looking forward into the 2013-14 NHL Season, there will be a lot of changes in the Central Division and around the NHL. Here at Bleedin’ Blue we are going to be speaking with writers around Fansided’s NHL Network to get a better idea about the other teams in the division and the league.
For the first time in many years, the Blues will host every team in the NHL in 2013-14, so we need to get to know some of these teams a little better.
One that many fans will already be familiar with is the Nashville Predators.
Apr 27, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Sergei Kostitsyn (74) shoots the puck against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period at Nationwide Arena. Columbus defeated Nashville 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
1. The Predators took a big step back in 2013, but seem to be looking for new faces to help build the team back up to what they once were. How do you expect the Preds to do in 2013-14?
When it come to next year, it’s any one guess. I think that a playoff spot is a possibility. It will take a combination of scoring and goaltending. While that may sound like a cop-out, it has to happen that way. Nashville can not have another 111 goal season, and Rinne can not have another sub par year.
2. The Blues and Predators have built a solid rivalry over the years. How do you think Predators fans view the Blues?
It has become a good rivalry. For Predators fans, as long as you are not Chicago, you are not on the top of the hate list. With that said if you are an opposing team you won’t get a ton of respect from Predators fans. I think the Blues are hated when they share the ice with the Preds, and disliked for the rest of the year.
3. What team are you most concerned about in the new Central Division and why?
All eyes are on the Blackhawks, and that goes from the front office to the trainers. They have the players, and coaching to give the Predators, and every other team in the Central fits.
4. What team entering the new division are you least concerned about and why?
My guts says Dallas. I have watched Ruff coach for 15 years, and I think that Nashville matches up very well with the Stars.
5. With the Western Conference having just 14 teams to the Eastern Conference’s 16, do you think another mid-western team makes sense? Where would you want to put one and would it make for a good rivalry?
I’m not sure if the NHL needs another Mid-West team, but the only city I can think of is OKC (Oklahoma City). The NBA has worked there, and it has the BIG city money to support a team until the area learns the game. When the NHL expands I do expect them to stay west. I believe that there is a 2 team difference between conference for that reason.
Apr 19, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber (6) moves the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period at the United Center. The Blackhawks beat the Predators 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
6. The Predators proved that they would do anything to keep Shea Weber on the team, but moving forward will they be able to afford him or do they make a major move that brings even more young talent to the team?
I do not think that Nashville will hold on to Weber for the entire length of his contract. I’d look for the Predators to hold on to Weber for another 4-5 years. That will give Seth Jones and any singed or drafted talent to mature, and fill the void.
7. Is Pekka Rinne capable of winning a Stanley Cup? He seems to be superhuman at times, but without the support around him he has never been able to go very far in the postseason.
Capable? Yes, but not unless he can keep his head on straight. Nashville signed back up goaltender Carter Hutton to give Rinne a break when needed. I also believe that during this off seasons Nashville did add some supporting players to help with a Playoff run.
I want to thank Patrick once again for taking the time to answer a few questions for us about the Nashville Predators in the upcoming 2013-14 season. For more information about the Blues, Predators and every other team in the league, stay tuned to Bleedin’ Blue and follow us on Facebook
LET’S GO BLUES!