Back on March 22nd we published a piece on what the Nashville Predators needed to do to make the playoffs. Sitting with 30 points in the standings at that point, they needed to earn at least 24 points from their last 17 games – preferably by going 12-5-0, but doable by going 10-3-4 or 9-2-6. Essentially, the more games they lose, the fewer of them can be in regulation.
How have the Preds fared since then? Well, they beat Columbus on 2/23 and Edmonton on 3/25, but they were blown out by Phoenix on 3/28 and lost 1-0 in overtime to Colorado yesterday. They now have 35 points in the standings through 35 games. That ties them with Edmonton and Dallas, but those teams both haves at least one game in hand. All three teams are one point behind St. Louis, which sits in eighth place with 36 points through 33 games.
Finishing the season 8-2-3 would be enough to give the Preds 54 points; a 7-1-5 record would also get them there. But the best way to do it would be to finish at least 9-4-1. The Preds are low on regulation and overtime wins right now, the first tiebreaker for determining who gets in and who goes home. The more they win, the better their position if that tiebreaker comes into effect.
The good news for the Nashville Predators is that their fate is mostly in their own hands. Three of their remaining games are against the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings, who are currently precariously positioned in seventh and eighth places, respectively, in the Western Conference. They also have one more game against the Dallas Stars, who are currently ahead of Nashville only by virtue of a tiebreaker. Wins there would simultaneously help the Preds and hurt their opponents, instead of hoping for someone else to do the hard work for them.
The bad news is that there are still those four remaining games against the Chicago Blackhawks, who today crushed Detroit 7-1. The first of those comes tomorrow at United Center. The Preds fan base will be looking to captain Shea Weber and alternates Mike Fisher and Martin Erat to step up and lead this team back to the playoffs. Otherwise it’s going to be an earlier end to the season than we’ve seen in some time.