The Predators turned in a perfect set of games last week and are now on a three-game winning streak.
This week will feature the wrap up of a home stand on Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, a quick trip south to face the Tampa Bay Lightning (with former Pred Anders Lindback possibly in net) on Thursday and then Nashville returns home to face their second of three consecutive Eastern Conference opponents, the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
If it seemed unlikely Nashville would claim all six points in their three games this past week; then their next set might seem impossible.
The Chicago Blackhawks sit as the class of the Central Division with a 24-7-5 record and hold a 18-point lead over the Preds (and a six-point lead over the second place St. Louis Blues). But as has long been the case for Nashville, when they get solid goaltending, the team-defense game is able to shutdown the competition and produce quality chances of the counterattack. The Predators crushed the Hawks 7-2 the only other time the teams have met up this year, in what has to be seen as the surprise game of the year.
Nashville starts its first of three games against the Eastern Conference on Thursday, when they travel to Tampa Bay. These teams have not met yet in the regular season but they did split two games in the preseason. The Bolts have been looking for their identity, understandably, since Steven Stamkos exited the lineup with a broken leg, but with the help of players like Martin St. Louis (the ageless wonder) the Lightning have remained a top team in the East standing at 19-11-3.
The Preds are also one-for-one against the Canadiens this year as Seth Jones scored the late game-winning goal when the teams clashed on October 19th up in Montreal. The Canadiens have evolved into one the Eastern Conference’s top teams since that game early in the season and stand in second place in the conference with a 20-12-3 record.
Three games in a week all against division leaders, who are in the top three in their conferences, is a challenge for any team and this critical week may go a long way in determining Nashville’s postseason chances.