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25 Years: A Look at the Nashville Predators

by Clyde E. Dawkins 12 days ago in hockey
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The Nashville Predators celebrate 25 years as a franchise, and they have quite an interesting history

The Nashville Predators became the NHL's 27th franchise in 1998

It doesn't seem like 25 years since the Nashville Predators joined the NHL. I remember it like it was yesterday; I was 13 years old and in eighth grade when the Predators joined the league. The expansion/relocation wave during the 1990s and early 2000s was very intriguing. NHL franchises were located in markets that no one ever thought would have hockey in them. Two teams in Florida, two more teams in California. Teams moving to Dallas, Denver, and even Phoenix. Now Nashville with a team? Amazing.

The Predators became the NHL's 27th franchise when they debuted in 1998, and they were the first expansion team since the Florida Panthers and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim were added five years prior. The addition of the Predators forced the NHL to realign their divisions; it had been two divisions per conference for decades, but they increased the number of divisions to six beginning with the 1998-99 season, with the Northwest and Southeast Divisions created. The Preds definitely had their moments in their first quarter-century of existence, and here's a look at their history.

1998-99: Debuted as part of the four-team Central Division, along with the Detroit Red Wings, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the St. Louis Blues (the Columbus Blue Jackets would join the division in 2000-01). In the final season of the Win-Loss-Tie format in the standings, the Preds went 28-47-7 and racked up 63 points in their inaugural season.

1999-2003: The Overtime Loss column debuted in the 1999-2000 season, and during this four season stretch, the Predators only finished in last place once, doing so in their aforementioned second season. The Blue Jackets' debut kept Nashville out of last place for the next three years, with their best season in that stretch being the 2000-o1 season, which saw them go 34-36-9-3 and finish with 80 points.

2003-04: The Predators compiled their first winning season in their brief history, going 38-29-11-4 and racking up 91 points. As a result, in only their sixth season, they qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and in Game One, Adam Hall scored 16 seconds into the game, giving the Predators their first playoff goal in history. The Preds would lose the Western Conference Quarterfinal series to the Red Wings.

2005-06: Nashville's first 100-point season; going 49-25-8 (eight OT/SO losses--ties were abolished during that season) and finishing with 106 points. Defeated by the Sharks in a five-game West Quarterfinal series.

2006-07: Their first 50-win season; going 51-23-8 and racking up 110 points. Despite this, they were again defeated in Round 1 by the Sharks (five games again).

2007-08: Repeat of Year Six: 91 points in the standings (41-32-9), and a first round loss to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings (six games).

2008-09: Went 40-34-8 (88 points), but missed the playoffs by three points. This was the first time Nashville missed the playoffs since 2002-03, and the last time they would finish in last place in the division.

2009-10: Returned to the playoffs with their third 100-point season in five years (100 points even--47-29-6), but lost the West Quarterfinals to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.

2010-11: Went 44-27-11 (99 points); defeated the Anaheim Ducks in the West Quarterfinals (six games), but lost the Western Conference Semifinals to the Vancouver Canucks (also six games). This was the first time that the Predators won a playoff series.

2011-12: Went 48-26-8 (104 points); defeated the Red Wings in a five-game West Quarterfinal series, but lost the West Semis to the Phoenix Coyotes (also five games).

2012-13: The lockout-shortened 48-game season; only won 16 games and missed the playoffs.

2013-14: Divisions realigned to the current four division format; Predators remained in a seven-team Central Division. They went 38-32-12, but missed the playoffs for the second straight season. As of this point, it remains the last time the Predators missed the playoffs.

2014-15: Finished second in the Central with a 47-25-10 record (104 points). Defeated in a six-game Central Division Semifinal series by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks.

2015-16: Went 41-27-14 (96 points) and qualified as one of the Western Conference's Wild Cards. Defeated the Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division Semifinals (seven games), but lost to the Sharks in the Pacific Division Final (also seven games).

2016-17: Finished with two fewer points than the previous year, and entered the playoffs as the lowest of the 16 teams. Swept the top-seeded Blackhawks in the Central Semifinals, and defeated the St. Louis Blues in the Central Final (six games) to reach the Western Conference Final for the first time in franchise history, where they defeated the Ducks in six games. Lost the Stanley Cup Final in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. This was Nashville's only appearance in the Cup Final, coming in their 19th season (18th of play).

2017-18: The Predators' best regular season ever: 53-18-11 and 117 points, which gave them the Presidents' Trophy for the first and only time in franchise history. Defeated the Colorado Avalanche in the Central Semifinals (six games), but lost the Central Final to the Winnipeg Jets (seven games).

2018-19: Their second straight division title; 47-29-6 and 100 points even. However, Nashville was defeated in a six-game Central Semifinal series by the Dallas Stars.

2019-20: Season paused in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, the Predators were 35-26-8 (78 points), and they finished sixth in the entire Western Conference and qualified for the modified 24-team playoffs. The Preds played in the best-of-five Qualifying Round, but were defeated in four games by the Arizona Coyotes.

2020-21: The Preds remained in the Central Division, but it was localized due to COVID protocols. In the shortened 56-game season, the Preds went 31-23-2 (64 points) and finished fourth in the Central, but they were defeated in the Central Semifinals by the Carolina Hurricanes (six games).

2021-22: Went 45-30-7 (97 points) and qualified as the 2nd Wild Card in the Western Conference. Swept by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Avalanche in the Central Semifinals--the first time the Preds failed to win a playoff game.

Amazing, isn't it? The Predators have played 23 seasons in 24 years, and made the playoffs in 15 of them. They've only missed the playoffs eight times, and currently have a playoff streak; they've qualified for eight straight years. They've definitely had their amazing moments; obviously 2016-17 was their best year, as it saw them in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. The Preds are off to a bit of a shaky start this season, but I know them, they'll get out of this. A team that good, with players such as Matt Duchene, Filip Forsberg, Mikael Granlund, Roman Josi, and the newly acquired Nino Niederreiter, doesn't stay down for long. Also, they have a pretty good goaltender in the form of Juuse Saros. I guarantee you, by March, the Preds will be in a prime position and ready to return to the playoffs.

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About the author

Clyde E. Dawkins

Born on March 18, 1985. I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also love movies--especially comedy and horror--and among my favorite TV shows are The Simpsons and Family Guy

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