Time to get Stanley Cup crazy

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David Hunter

Could this be the year that Nashville finally beats its hated rival for the first time in the playoffs since the franchise was born in 1998?

According to hockey experts, the answer is yes, but it will be another hard-fought series between the two teams.

But that is what makes the NHL playoffs one of the best in all of sports.

Anybody that has either won – or has at least fought for it – knows it takes more than just skill to hoist up the Stanley Cup at the end of the season. It will take grit, determination and the never-say-die attitude.

However, you never know what will happen when the puck drops. So fans like myself are nervously waiting and hoping to watch history in the making.

As for the Predators, fans and critics believe Nashville finally has the opportunity to get past the Red Wings and advance to the second round for the second year in a row.

Since joining the league back in the 1998-99 season, the Predators always measured themselves against the traditional power. In the previous two playoff meetings back in 2004 and 2008, the Red Wings, by far, had the more talent, and the Predators were just hoping to make the series respectable.

Now the attitude has shifted for the Preds, and most people around the sport believe the tide has changed between the two squads.

Will Smashville live up to the hype?

It is not like this is the Predators first trip to the playoffs. This will be the seventh time out of the last eight seasons Nashville made it to the postseason.

Of course, these Predators are deep in all parts of the ice.

Most people around the midstate, even if they do not follow hockey know about the best defensive pair in the NHL, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.

Most offenses can not find a way around these two, but the bad news is both of these players might be on different teams in a few months.

Nashville also has one of the best goalies in the NHL, period, end of discussion. Pekka Rinne is in the running for the league's top goalie award, the Vezina Trophy. This season, he led the NHL in wins with 43.

The offense is not bad either, especially with the additions at the NHL trade deadline. However, the team received a gift when scorer Alexander Radulov made his Predators return after spending the previous four seasons playing in the Russian professional league.

As for Nashville's first round opponent, the Red Wings are very talented, but some believe their time might be up.

Don't count them out. Hockeytown has two of the best forwards in the game in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Also, they have one of the best lock down defenders ever in the sport's history in 41-year-old Nicklas Lidstrom.

All in all, this will be an incredible series, and I can't wait.

Game One was last night at Bridgestone Arena and the second game will be tomorrow night at the same location.

All of the playoff games will be shown on the NBC family of networks (NBC, NBC Sports and CNBC) and the NHL network.

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David Hunter, Hockey, Nashville, Predators, Sports, Stanley Cup, Voices
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