The Nashville Predators’ road to the Stanley Cup is a familiar one.
They enter the 2021-22 postseason as the eighth seed in the Western Conference and will face the Colorado Avalanche in the first round, which begins Tuesday in Denver.
The last – and only – time the Predators played for a title was 2017, when they also were an eight seed and went on to lose in the Stanley Cup Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The odds are stacked against the Predators again this season.
Here’s a quick breakdown of their first-round matchup:
Records: Predators 45-30-7, fifth in Central Division; Avalanche 56-19-7, first in Central Division.
Season series: Predators won 3-1-0, including a victory in overtime and one in a shootout.
Avalanche: 308 goals, 3.76 per game (4th)
Predators: 262 goals, 3.20 per game (12th)
Five to watch
Predators: Roman Josi, (23 goals, 73 assists, 96 points) Matt Duchene (43-43-86), Filip Forsberg (42-42-84), Mikael Granlund (11-53-64), Ryan Johansen (26-37- 63).
Avalanche: Mikko Rantanen (36-56-92), Nathan MacKinnon (32-56-88), Nazem Kadri (28-59-87), Cale Makar (28-58-86), Andre Burakovsky (22-39-61).
FYI: The Avalanche also have two more players who topped 50 points.
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Avalanche: 9th, 232 goals allowed
Predators: 17th, 250 goals allowed
Three to watch
Predators: Josi, Mattias Ekholm (6-25-31), Alexandre Carrier (3-27-30)
Avalanche: Makar, Devon Toews (13-44-57), Samuel Girard (5-23-28)
FYI: Josi and Makar figure to be the frontrunners for the Norris Trophy.
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Predators: 24.4% (6th; Matt Duchene’s 16 PPG led team)
Avalanche: 24% (7th; Mikko Rantanen’s 16 PPG led team)
Predators: 79.2% (18th)
Avalanche: 79.7% (14th)
FYI: Each team allowed five short-handed goals this season. The Avalanche led the league with 67 power-play goals, while the Predators were fourth with 63.
Saros (who may not play): 38-25-3, 2.64 goals-against average, .918 save%, 4 shutouts
Rittich: 6-3-4, 3.57 GAA, .886 save%
Ingram: 1-2-0, 3.71 GAA, .879 save%
Darcy Kuemper: 37-12-4, 2.54 GAA, .921 save% (5th in NHL), 5 shutouts
Pavel Francouz: 15-5-1, 2.55 GAA, .916 save%, 2 shutouts
Reach Paul Skrbina at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PaulSkrbina.