4 Teams Predators Fans Could Cheer For During the Playoffs

The Nashville Predators find themselves outside the playoffs for the first time in eight years. Their first opportunity for hope and joy falls on May 8, the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery date. Until then, Bridgestone Arena will be void of hockey-related activity. Hopping on a team’s bandwagon can fill the hockey-playing void in Preds fans’ lives, bringing in a new sense of excitement and community. The stakes are low, so no days will be ruined if an upset, choke or bad penalty happens; just good, old-fashioned hockey watching. Here are four teams Predators fans should cheer for as the first round rages on. 

Predators Cheer for Ekholm’s First Ring

When picking a new team to cheer for, the Edmonton Oilers should be the first on Predators fans’ lists. At the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, they acquired veteran defenceman, Mattias Ekholm. They sent a massive haul, including draft picks, prospect Reid Schaefer and Tyson Barrie, to the Predators to help jumpstart their retool. Watching Ekholm lift the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career, realizing his dream in a different sweater than he is known for, would be bittersweet, but something fans can rally for nonetheless. 

Mattias Ekholm Edmonton Oilers
Mattias Ekholm, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Oilers are among the favourites to come out of the Western Conference, making this choice logical from an emotional perspective but also plausible on the ice due to the talent on their roster. Their first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Kings is a coin toss. With the series tied 2-2, it is a relatively risky option with the threat of an early exit. Still, with Ekholm on the Oilers roster, the story of a long-time Predators defencemen reaching the magnum opus of his career would bring happiness to most fans, with a valid, spiteful feeling of ‘why not us?’ resonating within. 

Cheering for a Fellow Underdog 

Despite being divisional rivals to the Predators, the Winnipeg Jets are a story that fans can rally around. Both teams competed for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, with the Jets edging out the Preds. Fandom through Winnipeg is an opportunity to see how far the Preds’ playoff success would have gone, given that they were the team that secured a chance to play in the playoffs. Additionally, cheering for the Jets means cheering for Nino Niederreiter, a former Predator. 

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The underdog story resonates with the Predators organization dearly. Their only Stanley Cup Final appearance came as the eighth seed in the Western Conference. While cheering for a divisional rival is not fun by design, cheering for the team that made the playoffs can give hope that they could have done the same. While that sentiment may be disheartening, envisioning the Predators in the Jets’ position is a win-win. If they lose in the first round to the Vegas Golden Knights? Then the Predators would have done the same. Make a deep playoff push? Then they would have done so too. Some mental gymnastics are needed to connect the dots; however, it is there. 

Predators’ Fans Can Cheer For History 

The Boston Bruins yield the easiest bandwagon to hop on for Predators fans. They currently hold a 3-1 first-round series lead over the Florida Panthers and, most importantly, set the NHL record for most wins and points in a regular season. By definition, they are the best hockey team of all time by regular season standards. Solidifying their ranking as number one for the best teams of all time would be historical, something Predators fans may want to enjoy too. 

David Pastrnak Boston Bruins
David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In addition to the historical statistics to back up their bandwagon resume, the Bruins contain an array of loveable and hateable players to support. Predators fans can cheer for Brad Marchand, the notorious rat of the NHL, or, conversely, the most gentlemanly man in Patrice Bergeron. Their opposite on-ice personalities complement each other so well. David Pastrnak, Taylor Hall, David Krejci, and the stories of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman are among the other players with notable stories on the team. While perhaps the most boring to cheer for from an outside perspective due to the Stanley Cup expectations on the Bruins, their bandwagon is expansive, welcoming, and high-reward for Predators fans looking for a team to support.

Predators’ Fans Can Watch A True Dynasty Form 

Cheering for greatness is easy, but an option Predators fans can choose. They could choose the Bruins mentioned above or the dynasty-hunting Tampa Bay Lightning. NHL fans argue about what constitutes the term dynasty in hockey. Many consider the Chicago Blackhawks of the 2010s a dynasty, while some argue that their three Stanley Cup championships in six years are too spread apart to fit the definition. Three in four. The inarguable definition is the goal the Lightning hope to achieve during the 2023 NHL Playoffs. Their two championships and three straight Eastern Conference championships place them in rare territory. One more Cup and Lightning hit the mark on its head. 

Andrei Vasilevskiy Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy makes the lunging pad save against Toronto Maple Leafs Ryan O’Reilly (Photo by Gavin Napier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Predators fans have an extra reason to cheer for the Lightning aside from wanting to watch history. This year, the Bolts’ deadline acquisition is Tanner Jeannot, whom they got from the Preds. Jeannot commanded a hefty haul, including five draft picks. His physical presence in their first-round matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs shows why he is worth the price. Like Ekholm, witnessing a recently departed player raise Lord Stanley would be touching.

Who Should You Choose?

Whichever team a Predators fan picks will be a good choice. Every team in the 2023 NHL Playoffs contains an intriguing storyline to jump on board with and ride to the Stanley Cup. For Preds fans, the four options discussed incorporate history and, in some cases, former players to cheer on. Whether it be Ekholm, Jeannot, Niederreiter, or rooting for history to be made, the 2023 NHL Playoffs are proving to be historical, so jumping in on the fun is a great way to bide time until the 2023 Draft.

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