Nashville Predators: Why Patric Hornqvist's Return Will Lead Preds to Playoffs

Adam Rickert@adam_rickertAnalyst IIMarch 26, 2013

Despite being one of the most consistently successful clubs in hockey for the better part of the past decade, Barry Trotz's Nashville Predators have never been known as an offensive powerhouse. While they have been known to be particularly deadly on the power play in recent years, the Preds have been a team that relies mostly on stellar goaltending and tight defense.

Patric Hornqvist is perhaps the closest any Nashville Predator in history has been to a top goal scorer, already 10th on the Predators' all-time goal-scoring list despite playing only three full NHL seasons.

Obviously, it was a big blow to the team when he went down with an upper-body injury a few weeks ago. The team already had to endure a stretch of 10 games from mid-January without him and has now had to deal with another eight games with a big hole in the offense.

According the Tennesseean, Hornqvist is likely to return to action Monday night against Edmonton. With the trade deadline looming, adding a top-six forward as well as bringing Hornqvist back into the fold could provide a huge boost to Nashville's offensive totals and could catapult the team into the thick of the playoff race.

It could also help prevent Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne from suffering back injuries from carrying the team. Sorry, that was out of line.

Anyway, the Predators are just one measly point out of the top eight entering play on Monday night. They have one of the best goaltenders in hockey and one of the best coaches in hockey, and they have proven that they can win big games with a solid team-based effort.

Hornqvist will definitely impact the team's offensive output if he can stay healthy, and the team can feel safer leaning on its defense and goaltending to carry it to a playoff berth for the seventh of eight seasons.

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