They said Pekka Rinne was over the hill, and that the Chicago Blackhawks would beat the Nashville Predators easily in the first round of the 2017 NHL playoffs (God I hate agreeing with Arpon Basu, the only NHL.com who picked the Preds to win the series; read my full predictions here).
And yet, off a 29-save Rinne shutout, the Preds took Game 1 at Chicago's United Center to take the lead and steal home-ice advantage from the Hawks.
Rinne's had a decent season, finishing with a 31-19-9 record with 3 shutouts (against the Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers, and Minnesota Wild, all potential playoff adversaries), a .918 save percentage and 2.42 goals-against average. The latter may seem a tad high in today's NHL, but keep in mind that Nashville spent a month and a half finding its game after the Shea Weber/P.K. Subban trade, and just when they'd found their rhythm, Subban injured his back for a month, case the team to go on a bit of a losing streak.
They could definitely surprise a few people here. I'd love it if they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final and faced their former coach Barry Trotz and his Washington Capitals...
As I mentioned in my prediction, however, that will require Rinne to play like the perennial Vezina runner-up that he used to be at least a dozen times, but I think he can do it. Here he is wearing the Preds' current white (away) uniform, on card #US-PR from Upper Deck's 2011-12 Ultimate Collection set and Ultimate Signatures sub-set: