NASHVILLE -- For seven of the past eight seasons, the final regular-season home game represented a leaping off point for the Nashville Predators to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This season, that will not happen. The Predators missed the playoffs for a variety of reasons -- some of which will be reflected when the team suits up Tuesday against the Calgary Flames at Bridgestone Arena. Two of the team's top-six forwards, Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist, remain out, too injured to play, although they participated in the team's morning skate.
Nonetheless, it appears the fans will have an opportunity to give starting goalie Pekka Rinne a sendoff until next season; he'll get the start in goal.
"It's sort of closure at home here," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "Our fans have been fantastic. The last couple of years we've filled this building. We had 28 straight sellouts this year (dating back to last season). Then we had that week where we had four home games. That sort of put a damper on that in terms of sellouts. They've come out and supported us even in tough times. We haven't been really good with a number of injuries."
Trotz cited a game on April 15 against the Vancouver Canucks -- the Predators were eliminated from the playoffs that night, but fought back from a 2-0 deficit to tie it. At that point, the fans showed their appreciation with a standing ovation during a timeout, something that has become a trademark at the arena.
"Those are things you love about your fans and this market," Trotz said.
Here are Tuesday's projected lineups:
Sergei Kostitsyn - Nick Spaling - Daniel Bang
Kevin Henderson - David Legwand - Filip Forsberg
Bobby Butler - Chris Mueller - Matt Halischuk
Rich Clune - Austin Watson - Craig Smith
Shea Weber - Roman Josi
Kevin Klein - Victor Bartley
Jonathon Blum - Hal Gill
Out: Mike Fisher, Patric Hornqvist, Taylor Beck, Gabriel Bourque, Paul Gaustad, Brandon Yip
Ben Hanowski - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman
Sven Baertschi - Mikael Backlund - Mike Cammalleri
Carter Bancks - Paul Byron - Lee Stempniak
Maxwell Reinhart - Roman Horak - Jiri Hudler
Mark Giordano - Cory Sarich
TJ Brodie - Mark Cundari
Chris Butler - Brett Carson
Out: Curtis Glencross, Alex Tanguay, Ben Street, Anton Babchuk, Akim Aliu, Dennis Wideman, Steve Begin, Blair Jones, Brian McGrattan, Roman Cervenka, Leland Irving