The Predators started the 2015-16 year with the goal of challenging for the division title and continuing their playoff streak. Even though the Preds have had really good seasons the past few years, including a 111 points season, they were never able to best the elusive Blues and claim that Central banner.
The Nashville roster to start the year featured a lot of depth and a strong defense. With the team doing well, the Predators made a couple of moves to bolster their roster for the end of the year and the playoffs.
Building on a good first half of the season, the Predators kept the wins coming to finish the season with 46 wins and 105 points. That was good enough for 2nd overall in the standings, best team in the west and the first Central banner.
The Predators were entering the playoffs with the home ice advantage all the way to the Cup. The management and coaches had great hopes this year, thinking that it could be the year where Nashville was finally going to bring home the Cup.
In the first round, Nashville would face San Jose. The Predators were in good position to advance. Even though Jordan Staal was lost to injury in game 1, Nashville was able to get a 3-1 lead in the series. The 5th game was a great opportunity to end it and move to the 2nd round.
The Preds got on the ice to end it, outshooting the Sharks 34-19. However, they weren’t able to beat Rask who single-handedly won the games for San Jose, shutting out the Predators offense. This turned the series around and the Sharks were able to tie it up.
This led to an ultimate game where both team both competed hard. The Predators got an early 2-0 lead in the game but the Sharks were able to come back and push the game to overtime. Early in the overtime, the Sharks best player, Matt Duchene, scored the decisive goal that made it 3-2 to eliminate Nashville.
Thus ended the Predators playoffs in a disappointing fashion. Iginla, who had led the Predators with 41 goals during the season was unable to score in 7 games against the Sharks. Klefbom on defense had a hard time, being a -3 along with Chris Higgins.
It is now time for the management to evaluate how the team should evolve for next year. The team both features aging veterans and young players. Is it a time for a coaching change? Will changes be needed to fit under the cap? Can we bring in all the rookies under the contract limit? All questions that will need to be answered before next September. In the meantime, the draft will be coming up fast, an event that is very important to the Predators’ brass.