On August 14, I got to chat with Joseph Francis from Predlines.com, a Nashville Predators’ blog. Joseph offered some unique opinions on the Blues, as well as his favorite memories of postseason success as a Nashville Predators fan.
Give the readers a little info on what Predlines.com is and how you started working on the site.
I started working for the site during the 2017 Cup Final. Prior to that, I wrote for CubbiesCrib, the FanSided site for the Chicago Cubs. As a lifelong Cubs fan, it was great to cover the team. But, I was living in Nashville and engulfed by the Predators.
The site itself is meant to cover the Predators, providing opinions and analysis of what we see, but we take more of a fan’s view. Consider it “watercooler” talk.
Nashville is the measuring stick of the Western Conference for the last few years. How much fun has that been for you guys to cover?
It has been fun, but also stressful. When the team is playing well, everyone is excited about what they are seeing. But, like every sport, teams go through slumps or just have a dumpster-fire game. Because of the increased success, expectations are higher, and more eyes are on not only the team but those who cover them.
What moves have the Preds made this offseason that have you guys talking over at Predlines, and what is your level of optimism for this year?
Honestly, this offseason left us scratching our heads more than anything. Well, until today. With Ryan Ellis locking into an 8-year extension, the future looks bright for this team. That said, the biggest moves were re-signing players like Juuse Saros and Ryan Hartman, and adding Zac Rinaldo.
When it comes to this season, there are two major questions: Can [Pekka] Rinne be Vezina-worthy again, and does Austin Watson get suspended? Outside of that, we know what to expect. The JoFA line will score, Fiala looks ready to step up, and there is tons of quality depth. The Blueline can be stellar, but needs to clean up play in front of the net a bit.
Can they repeat as Division champs?
But, the quality of the division is high. The Blues have been pretty active this offseason. How has it looked from your perspective?
To be honest, nothing the Blues have done this offseason has wow’ed me. The addition of [Ryan] O’Reilly is great and I expect great things from him. But, the Blues need defensive help. With Carter Hutton gone, teams will be looking to get the puck on net more, taking advantage of what appears to be the Blues weakness this season.
St. Louis was an NHL worst on the power play, and that should change with O’Reilly, but the defense could put the team in a major hole.
What is your way too early look at how this division plays out?
This will be tough because the division is likely the best in all the NHL.
The Jets and Predators will likely battle for the top spots again, but Colorado, Minnesota, and St. Louis will apply some pressure. Still not sure about which Blackhawks team we will see this season. My guess, Jets win the division, followed by the Preds, Avs, Blues, Stars, Wild, and Blackhawks. Five teams will make it to the postseason from this group.
The Predators have an incredible home-ice advantage. Have any stories about what it feels like to be in the arena when it is rocking?
The way the arena is laid out, the sound funnels to the ice extremely well. With the fans often chanting in unison, the sound can overwhelm you physically. But, the best story actually comes from a time I was not in the arena, but on Broadway.
During game three of the 2017 Cup Final, I watched the game from a downtown establishment. The wave of sound coming from Bridgestone, down the street, and through the various venues was one of the most amazing feelings. The entire city was filled with cheering, and you could feel the energy everywhere.
Thanks, Joseph for your time, and we will continue to head over to Predlines.com to check out the latest when it comes to arguably our fiercest Central Division rival.
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