Nashville, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Nashville Predators opened up their season with a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night and fans were already wondering if this could be the year the Predators win the Stanley Cup.
It’s still way too early make any predictions, but I wouldn’t totally disagree. There wasn’t a whole lot of change in the offseason, but it’s the big moves the Preds made, that makes me think this team could be different.
P.K. Subban was productive during his time with the Predators and he did a lot for Music City, but it almost felt like something was off in that dressing room last season. Maybe I read too much into a “team vibe,” but the vibe I got wasn’t necessarily one of cohesiveness.
Enter newcomer Matt Duchene. The Canadian-born centerman signed a seven-year $56 million dollar deal with the Predators, and he is already getting rave reviews from his teammates in the short time he’s been in Nashville.
We all knew Duchene was going to be a big addition to the Preds roster, especially when it comes to helping offensive production and the power play, but it’s almost like he’s even better than advertised.
On Thursday, Duchene stepped onto the ‘Gold Carpet’ wearing black-on-black with dark shades, just like the late, great Johnny Cash. That’s certainly the look he was going for and it was a hit with the fans.
Later that night, on the ice, he rattled off three assists and made an instant impression on Smashville. That’s not surprising considering the fact he has always dreamed of landing in Music City.
And as expected, when you add a player of that caliber, it’s likely that things will change on the ice. It wasn’t a complete shock to see the Johansen-Forsberg-Arvidsson (JoFa) line broken up, but I think re-configuring the lines will help the Predators.
Craig Smith moves up to the top line, and Filip Forsberg shifts to the second line with Duchene and Mikael Granlund, honestly I love the move. On Thursday, they combined for the most ice time, and chipped in for two of the Preds’ five goals. But here’s the thing, they also spread the wealth.
The top line contributed with a goal by Arvidsson and assists from Johansen and Smith. There is no way to predict if things will stay this way, but at least it feels like there is more versatility.
I know it was only one game, but it feels like Matt Duchene has been a part of this team for years. From the instant respect given by his teammates, to Smashville’s warm embrace, Duchene is a good fit. And David Poile might have found the missing piece to winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.