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Filip Forsberg helped Predators clinch

Forward, linemate Viktor Arvidsson combine for more than 60 goals, boost Nashville into playoffs

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Nashville Predators shook the hockey universe when they traded their captain, Shea Weber, to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman P.K. Subban on June 29.

It marked the end of an era for Nashville; for the first time in a decade, Weber would not be on its roster. It was a facelift for the Predators on and off the ice.

After losing to the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 of the 2016 Western Conference Second Round, the Predators were determined to do anything to take the next step.

There have been ups and downs, for sure, but the Predators have clinched a berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here are five reasons the Predators clinched:

 

Filip Forsberg

Predators coach Peter Laviolette said prior to the start of the season that he was going to be counting on Forsberg to take the next step. Forsberg overcame a slow start (he failed to score in the first 13 games of the season) to score more than 30 goals for a second straight season. The Predators' top line of Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson has been one of the more productive lines in the NHL over the second half of the season.

"He's been a fairly consistent player now for almost three years as somebody that can put the puck in the back of the net and play a good 200-foot game," Laviolette said.

Video: MIN@NSH: Forsberg deflects Josi's shot past Stalock

 
Defensive depth

All eyes obviously were on Subban at the start of the season, but the Predators defense is one of the deepest in the League. The Roman Josi-Ryan Ellis pair has contributed immensely at each end of the ice. Josi has 48 points in 70 games; Ellis has scored 15 goals and has a plus-16 rating.

"They're excellent defensively, both of them," Laviolette said of Josi and Ellis. "Good defense in our end starts the good breakouts and good neutral-zone counters, and that puts them in the offensive zone. They're smart with their decision-making. They're not reckless. That makes them responsible offensive players."

Video: WSH@NSH: Josi scores second goal on a power play

 
Viktor Arvidsson emerges

One could make a strong argument Arvidsson, a fourth-round pick (No. 112) at the 2014 NHL Draft, has been as valuable to the Predators this season as anyone on their roster. He's been remarkably consistent since opening night and is one goal shy of 30 in his first full NHL season.

"I guess I wasn't too sure what he was going to bring this year and where he could take his game," Johansen told The Tennessean. "That's probably why we're talking about him right now and how impressed we are by the way he's been consistent for us all year."

Video: SJS@NSH: Arvidsson scores late SHG on breakaway

 
Capable backup goalie

Pekka Rinne is going to play 60 games this season when it's all said and done, but Juuse Saros has been solid when called upon. In his first NHL season, Saros, who turns 22 on April 19, is 9-8-3 with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage.

"[Rinne's] our guy," Predators captain Mike Fisher told The Tennessean. "He's been so good for us, and there's been nights when we haven't played well in front of him. They've both been playing really good, and I think it's good that both guys can play. They'll keep each other rested down the stretch. We're in a fortunate situation where we've got two unbelievable goaltenders."

Video: NSH@STL: Saros makes a stellar stop on deflection

 

Calle Jarnkrok fills void

The Predators needed someone to step up as their No. 2 center and fill the void after Mike Ribeiro was placed on waivers Feb. 3 and ultimately demoted to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League. Jarnkrok has filled that role admirably and has 15 goals and 15 assists this season. His play in the postseason will go in a long way in determining how far the Predators can go.

Video: CGY@NSH: Jarnkrok finishes Smith's feed with wrister

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