Let’s rewind to 2018. Wow…that really does feel like an eternity ago. This was before Matt Duchene came to Nashville, before Pekka Rinne retired…before Kyle Turris was bought out, before PK Subban and Kevin Fiala were traded, before Craig Smith walked to Boston in free agency… It’s mind-boggling how much this team has changed in a few short years.
The 2017-2018 squad was largely the League favorite to win the Stanley Cup. After coming just shy of 60 minutes of their first-ever Stanley Cup in June 2017, the 2018 team was a force to be reckoned with. They locked up first in the Central Division and their first Presidents’ Trophy. Oh yeah, and Mike Fisher un-retired!
The Nashville Predators were the favorites, and the Colorado Avalanche barely scraped their way into the playoffs—that sure sounds like a familiar setup. In a lopsided series many predicted would be over in four games, Nashville required six games to get past the Avalanche. Some flaws were certainly exposed in this series, but the Predators would go into 2018-2019 without making a ton of changes, hoping to keep the team together for another run.
Game 1: Nashville 5, Colorado 2
The Predators opened the series on home ice. Having home ice was a crucial aspect of their postseason goal, and the Preds showed up in a big way against the Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena. Jonathan Bernier was in net for the Avs, and our King, Pekka Rinne, occupied the blue ice for Nashville.
The Avs scored early, but Nashville quickly stifled any attack and stomped Colorado out of the building…all in front of a raucous Tire Barn crowd. Pekka Rinne was stellar in this game.
Nashville goal scorers: Austin Watson, Craig Smith, Filip Forsberg (2), Colton Sissons (EN)
Colorado goal scorers: Nikita Zadorov, Blake Comeau
Game 2: Nashville 5, Colorado 4
Colin Wilson sighting! Gabriel Bourque sighting! Two former Preds combined for Colorado’s first goal of the game. Yikes. What a mood-buster.
Pekka Rinne held his struggling team together in Game 2. Viktor Arvidsson scored one of his trademark slapshots from the right circle, and Nashville’s defense forgot how to defend while struggling to stifle the speedy Avalanche.
Nashville goal scorers: Kevin Fiala, Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen, Austin Watson, Ryan Hartman
Colorado goal scorers: Gabriel Bourque, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Alexander Kerfoot
Game 3: Nashville 3, Colorado 5
Ah yes, Blake Comeau breaking Nashville with another early, untimely, ugly goal.
This game also featured Viktor Arvidsson crashing into goalie Jonathan Bernier, ultimately called for goalie interference. It was a truly ugly game, with Colorado going up 3-0 very quickly in the first period. A fourth goal was added early in the second period by MacKinnon, and the Predators appeared to wither before our eyes. Rinne was chased, and Juuse Saros took over the Nashville net.
Nashville goal scorers: Ryan Johansen, Colton Sissons, Austin Watson
Colorado goal scorers: Blake Comeau, Gabriel Bourque, Nathan MacKinnon (2), Gabriel Landeskog
Game 4: Nashville 3, Colorado 2
This game featured Filip Forsberg turning Duncan Siemens around for Nashville’s first goal of the game.
Nashville goal scorers: Filip Forsberg, Colton Sissons, Craig Smith
Colorado goal scorers: Gabriel Landeskog, Alexander Kerfoot
Game 5: Nashville 1, Colorado 2
In a game many thought would be an easy Game 5 victory for the Preds, those many were disappointed. Closing the series on home ice would have been incredible, but it was not to be. None of Nashville’s big-name goal scorers could find the back of the net.
Andrew Hammond took over goaltending duties for an injured Jonathan Bernier and he absolutely stood on his head in this game… the “Hamburglar” truly embodied his nickname. Rinne was again solid, but his team flopped in front of him.
The winner of this series would go on to face the Winnipeg Jets, and it was a highly anticipated Round Two matchup—however, Nashville seemed to be looking forward rather than looking at the scrappy team in front of them.
Nashville goal scorers: Nick Bonino
Colorado goal scorers: Gabriel Landeskog, Sven Andrighetto
Game 6: Nashville 5, Avalanche 0
Nashville gave Colorado no quarter in this Game 6.
Handshakes, and on to the Jets.
Nashville goal scorers: Mattias Ekholm, Austin Watson, Filip Forsberg, Nick Bonino, Viktor Arvidsson
Is it just me, or does 2018 seem like it was about 10 years ago? I really enjoyed watching prime Vezina-worthy Pekka Rinne and reminiscing.