Welcome to the November 17, 2013 Predlines Morning Skate – Sunday Edition. Thanks for visiting us this morning. The Sunday Skate is a little different, we will share a couple of quick thoughts about the current state of the Preds.
Last night, your Nashville Predators blasted the Chicago Blackhawks 7-2 and earned their 20th point in the 20th game of the season. The win brought the Predators back to .500 by evening their record at 9-9-2. Unfortunately, a point a game pace is not going to be enough to get the Preds into the playoffs. With the unbalanced realignment, qualifying for the playoffs can be done in either conference, but the Preds will still need to pick up the pace. Over the last 5 years, it look 55 points (in 48 games), 92, 93, 88 and 91 respectively. With 62 games remaining, the Preds will need to earn around 70 more points. Their record would need to be something like 31-23-8. For comparison sake, Nashville has earned 70 points in its last 75 games. It will definitely be a difficult task, but a number of the those 75 games were played without Pekka Rinne.
The biggest obstacle in the Preds path is that a number of the next 62 will also be played without Rinne. Marek Mazanec started his second consecutive game last night against Chicago and stopped 39 of the 41 shots faced to earn first NHL win. The Preds have struggled to find consistent goaltending since Rinne went down and it is not clear that they have found the answer. Mazanec has been strong in his four appearances, but has been plagued by a bad goal here or there. Carter Hutton has struggled as well, posting a .891 save percentage to date. Even when Rinne comes back, it is not clear what the Preds will do with the goaltending and how much Rinne may be forced to play.
The offensive outburst last night was the Preds highest goal output of the season and more than they scored in the last five games combined. While we should not expect 7 goals a night, hopefully this game wakes up the offense a bit. The Preds got goals from Matt Cullen, Nick Spaling, Patric Hornqvist, Viktor Stalberg, Mike Fisher, Craig Smith and Shea Weber. These are all guys that must contribute offensively if the Preds are going to make the playoffs.
Hopefully, the Preds can get some rest and some home cooking before heading back on the road to take on the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night. Check in with us daily for full coverage.
Thanks for stopping by this morning.