The Nashville Predators enter the last full week of the regular season with a tie for the longest win streak they’ve had all year.
It’s three wins in a row for Nashville, and the last two were dominate victories over two of the Western Conference’s best clubs. Knowing they must win all of their remaining games and hope for a lot of help in order to qualify for the postseason, the Predators strong weekend saw them take down the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 and goaltender Carter Hutton record his first NHL shutout in a 3-0 blanking of the San Jose Sharks.
Nashville concludes their three-game road trip in Dallas tomorrow night. The Stars are clinging to the final West wild card spot and are six points ahead of the Predators. After Tuesday’s game, Nashville plays their final two home games of the 2013-2014 season with matchups with the Phoenix Coyotes (currently one point out of the playoffs) on Thursday and a home finale against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
The three questions of the week:
- Hutton’s hot play: Riding a personal four-game winning streak, Hutton got the Predators winning stretch started with a shootout win over the Washington Capitals last Sunday. Then Saturday on the second half of a back-to-back set of games, the rookie netminder earned his first career shutout against the Sharks. With no games on consecutive nights this week, goaltender Pekka Rinne should be fine starting all three games, but does Hutton’s hot play earn him a start or two instead?
- Back next year: Although the Predators only have a few contracts coming off the books after this season, decisions are still being made about the players that will be back with the club next season. On one end of the spectrum, Hutton has progressed well under the tutelage of goaltender coach Mitch Korn and will almost certainly be re-signed. But what about forwards with down years, such as Viktor Stalberg or Colin Wilson? These players (and more) suddenly have only four games remaining to impress their current coaching staff and keep their spot on the 2014-2015 version of the Predators.
- Two-goal scorers: Last week, the Predators added two forwards to the 20-goal club when Mike Fisher collected two goals and Patric Hornqvist lit the lamp five times. Not only did the two forwards hit an important quota, but they also registered two goals in a single game that week, something that’s been happening a lot recently for Nashville. Five of the last six games a Predators forward has scored twice in a game, will the trend continue this week?
The Predators practice in Dallas today at 11 am, they’re back on the ice for a game at 7:30 p.m. (CST) tomorrow night.