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It’s not happening this year, Nashville Predators fans.

 If it does after Ryan Johansen’s season-ending injury, well, then take what would already be the greatest achievement in Nashville sports history and make a movie out of it. The idea of the Predators winning the Stanley Cup without the services of its top-line center — a young star who is becoming a force in this league before our eyes — is far-fetched to say the least.

 That doesn’t mean the Predators won’t rally around each other and come up with a “Win One for the Joey” performance in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals on Saturday in Anaheim. I wouldn’t even completely rule out an improbable case of ham-and-egging with smoke, mirrors and duct tape — have you ever watched the 1990s show “MacGyver”? — to beat the Ducks twice and advance to the first Stanley Cup finals in franchise history.

 That alone would be incredible. It would have been incredible to reach the final round with a healthy roster.

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But the idea that the Predators can function well enough without Johansen to win six more games at the required level of play and claim the Cup, well, I just can’t get there. You probably shouldn’t try.

 Johansen doesn’t just center Nashville’s top line, one of the best lines in the NHL. He is the creator whose vision and timing set up Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson with so many opportunities. And he is the most physically imposing member of this team, save for maybe grinding forward Cody McLeod.

Johansen has a mix of power and skill that few in the NHL can match. That’s why he’s about to get a huge contract from the team this summer. His presence is critical on both ends of the ice.

 The stunning news of his injury came first on Friday from SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman and was soon confirmed by the Predators in this statement: “During last night’s game, Ryan Johansen sustained a left thigh injury that required emergency surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The surgery was successful and the estimated recovery time is two to three months.”

 There was no indication during the game that Johansen was hurt, and media members saw him walking through the locker room as normal after the game. Also, I’ve never heard of a “thigh injury” that required surgery, so this whole situation is a strange one. We’ll get more information soon enough.

 What we know now is that the Predators’ lineup is a mess. Don’t forget that center Mike Fisher took a knee to the head in the third period of Thursday’s 3-2 overtime loss and did not return. Coach Peter Laviolette said after the game the he was going to be evaluated. It’s possible the Predators’ top two centers will be out for Game 5.

 That would leave Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons, Vernon Fiddler and … pick your creative Laviolette adjustment, to center the Predators’ four lines. It’s crucial that Fisher shows up to Honda Center healthy and ready to play Saturday. If he doesn’t, this is going to be quite a juggling act from Laviolette, a fascinating plot twist even if you don’t necessarily enjoy watching it.

 If Fisher’s OK, the Predators are still in big trouble. They have enough good players to hang with the Ducks. They have plenty of guys who can make plays. And there’s no doubt they will compete as doggedly as ever until their season is finished.

 But that giant hole in the lineup all but guarantees it will finish with no Stanley Cup in hand. Johansen’s absence can only be masked for so long.

When we think back on this spring and the way it has elevated the franchise and inspired Nashville, this injury will be an essential part of the story. A great story. But there’s no screenwriter on hand to Disney up the ending
 

Contact Joe Rexrode at jrexrode@tennessean.com and follow him on Twitter @joerexrode.