Things to love about the Nashville Predators
Underdog mentality: At times, it seems like most of the hockey world is arrayed against the Preds. Either some critics claim they can't succeed on the ice, or others want to see the whole operation folded up and packed off to Hamilton, Ontario. But to paraphrase ESPN's Chris Berman talking about the Buffalo Bills, "Nobody circles the wagons like the Nashville Predators."
Young stars: There is a young core of talent this is just entering their prime years, between Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and Pekka Rinne in particular. With more prospects on the way, the cupboard is finally getting restocked after the Great Salary Purge of 2007.
Downtown Nashville: Music City certainly has things right in terms of putting an arena downtown, in the middle of a vibrant area that welcomes tourists and hockey fans alike. No sooner are you out of the arena after a game than you're confronted by countless opportunities to eat, drink, and be merry.
Ice Girls: The music business isn't shy about using eye candy to its best effect, and neither are the Preds.
Rock 'em Sock 'em action: Jordin Tootoo dishes out thundering hits and backs himself up well when challenged, and there's also renowned heavyweight Wade Belak, who earlier this season crumpled Washington's Donald Brashear on home ice. Even a star like Weber isn't shy about chucking knuckles when the time is right.
The Crowd: The energy and feel of Predators games is more akin to college hockey than typical NHL action. Even the folks in the lower bowl know when to get loud and raz the opposing goalie. It's all led, of course, by the crazies up in Section 303.
Stability: Unlike most expansion clubs, Nashville has had a clear vision of what kind of hockey they play and boast a stable front office to back that up. Both the GM and coach have been with the team throughout its entire 11-year history.
Things to hate about the Preds
Lack of playoff success: While four-straight playoff appearances sounds nice, four consecutive first-round eliminations surely don't.
Budget Consciousness: The last time this team made a "go for it" personnel move, the team flopped in the first round and fiscal responsibility has ruled ever since. Peter Forsberg ain't walking through that door again, folks.
The Immeasurable Patience of David Poile: Closely tied to the point above, GM David Poile prefers to develop talent internally than acquire it through trade or free agency. For hockey fans who love to engage in pretend wheeling & dealing, the Preds are a major party pooper.
Big Brother in Motown: The Central Division has long been "Detroit & everybody else", and considering the budget differences between the Red Wings and Predators, and it's doubtful that Nashville will win a division title anytime soon.