Predators seek a long-lost identity as playoffs near

By John Glennon

In watching the Predators compete for more than two decades, we've seen the team assume a number of different personalities.

There were the scrappy overachievers of the early years; the defensive-minded contenders of the later Barry Trotz years; and the go-go Predators of Peter Laviolette's best seasons.

That prompts a question or two of this year's club, which opens the playoffs Sunday in Edmonton against the Arizona Coyotes: What exactly is the Predators' identity these days? What, in other words, does it mean to be playing “Predators hockey?” One last way of looking at it: What should fans – and opponents – expect to see more often than not when the Predators take the ice?

One could make a strong argument those questions weren't answered well enough during the 2019-20 regular season, when a Predators team coming off a Central Division title was still scratching and clawing for a playoff berth in March.

The Predators weren't a particularly explosive offensive team, as their 3.07 goals per game average ranked 16th in the league. Defense wasn't a strong suit either over the course of the entire season, as the Preds' 3.10 goals allowed per game average ranked 20th in the NHL.

Gritty? Tenacious? Nasty? Those kinds of qualities can't be quantified as easily as offense and defense, but it's fair to say the Preds . . .

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