By John Glennon
A mere four points separated the Predators and Arizona Coyotes in the standings when the NHL's regular season came to an unexpected end last March.
But one of the glaring differences between these teams as they readied for their first-round playoff series was postseason experience.
The Predators, simply put, had a ton of it. The Coyotes? Not so much.
Hard as it may be to believe, the Preds still have 13 players on their roster that reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, including the likes of Ryan Johansen, Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm among others. Nashville has reached the postseason six straight seasons, and has played in a combined 11 playoff series – including the current one – over that stretch.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, hadn't participated in a single playoff game since 2012 before Sunday's contest against the Preds. Arizona did bolster its playoff experience in a big way by acquiring Phil Kessel – a two-time Stanley Cup winner in Pittsburgh – before the 2019-20 season. But the bottom line is that the Coyotes, even with Kessel, would have missed the playoffs again this season if the NHL had stuck with its traditional 16-team format, as opposed to expanding it temporarily to 24 teams.
So given the background of the two teams, which looked more like a seasoned playoff squad on Sunday, when the . . .
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