Nashville Predators: Despite Criticism, They Still Keep Winning

Eric LaForgeCorrespondent IJanuary 13, 2010

VANCOUVER, CANADA - DECEMBER 22: Steve Sullivan #26 of the Nashville Predators skates up ice with the puck during NHL action against the Vancouver Canucks on December 22, 2009 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

I can't think of many people outside of Nashville that thought this team was going anywhere this season. Most of us assumed that they were going to play the same way they have in the past.

Halfway through the season, and we're still waiting for them to struggle. They haven't really had any point in their season where they stopped believing. There have been plenty of scares, but never something that amounted to anything.

If anything, that's the biggest reason that they're still in playoff contention. They're confidence is extremely high. It has to be, otherwise they wouldn't be able to win games.

To me, they are one of the top five hardest working teams in the NHL. You can't really argue too much with that. There are very few teams that can face expectations as low as the Predators and come out so high in the standings.

Offensively, this hard work has given them the 10th best offense in the NHL, scoring 2.81 goals per game. This is actually better than both the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres, who are both winning their divisions.

However, both of those teams are noted for their defensive capability. That's something that the Predators are only average in. They are 15th in the NHL in defense, but that might have something to do with the fact that they're around 20th in goaltending.

That doesn't seem to matter though, they are still fifth in the Western Conference halfway through the season, and are playing some strong hockey when they need to. That's the most important thing.

See more of my NHL opinions at Tips for Hockey