Well, this is just no fun is it? The Nashville Predators have lost eight of ten and all eight of those losses have come in regulation. After pacing the NHL for the first three-quarters of the season, the hometown boys have hit a wall and can’t seem to put it all together. People are jumping off of the bandwagon left and right, and it seems like every night the Predators find a new way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (like giving up FOUR goals in the third period, c’mon!).
Well there was once a very wise man named Brian, and he said that no matter what, you should always look on the bright side of life. So below I have, in convenient list form, five reasons Predators fans have to step back from that proverbial ledge and look on the bright side of things.
1.The Team Is Still Better Than We Thought
Honestly, way back in September did you think that the Predators would be one of the top teams in the NHL come March? No, you didn’t. No one did. I didn’t. My thoughts were that one of the off-season adds at center would pan out (true) and the team would be fighting for the 7th or 8th seed in the playoffs. Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota, and Dallas were just going to be too good for Nashville to gain any ground.
Others thought they would be much lower. Few experts had them even making the playoffs, much less contending for the top spot in the West; so when you think about where they started, the Nashville Predators are still way ahead of the curve in this respect. They may be down right now, but Predators fans still have to be happy about where they are at the moment. Speaking of contending…
2. They Can Still Win The Central and The West
Nashville currently sits second in the Central and third in the West with 93 points in 71 games played. St. Louis also has 93 points but have played two fewer games, and Anaheim leads the West with 95 points and 71 games played. What does all this mean? It means that if Nashville goes on a bit of a hot streak, they can reclaim their spot atop the division and/or the conference.
Now, there are only 11 games left in the season for the Predators, so they do have to get this going in a hurry, but only two of those games come against truly top-tier teams (Montreal and Tampa Bay). The rest are against middling to bad competition. If the Predators can right the ship in time, it’s not a stretch to think that they can jump back on top and take the number one or two seed in the West. St. Louis’s schedule has plenty of pitfalls left in it as well, so they are no lock to keep up their current pace.
Something along the lines of a 7-2-2 record down the stretch could be good enough to secure the Central, and maybe even enough to win the West if Anaheim falls off just a bit.
3. (Almost) Everyone Is Healthy
Almost all of the Predators’ roster is healthy. James Neal is a little banged up and Eric Nystrom is out for a couple of weeks, but the core of the team is still healthy. Ryan Ellis is back and getting into the swing of things and should be in full form very shortly. All in all, the top guys for the Predators are good to go. There are a lot of teams that can’t say the same for their star players.
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Chicago is short one Patrick Kane and fans are so despondent that they’ve built a shrine hoping to appease the hockey gods in order to heal him. He’s expected to miss the first two rounds of the playoffs. Kevin Shattenkirk of the Blues is still week-to-week following abdominal surgery, and he’s not expected back any time soon. Miraculously, the Predators have managed to keep most of their stars fairly healthy (knock on wood, seriously). The roster that set the NHL on fire for the first five months of the season is still intact. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
4. There Is Still Time
Eleven games is plenty enough for Coach Laviolette and the Predators to get things turned around. Even though the wheels are falling off right now…
Well, okay then. Point taken, but there’s still time to fix it. The playoffs don’t start until April 15th. That’s a lot of time for Laviolette to tinker around and find out what’s wrong with the team. At the end of the day there’s really only one thing that matters.
5. The Predators Will Be In The Playoffs
The worst case scenario at the moment is that the team plays terribly these last 11 games, finishes third in the division, and squares off against Chicago in the first round with Chicago holding home-ice advantage. Is that really so bad? The Predators are healthy, they match up pretty well with Chicago, and Chicago is missing Patrick Kane. Oh yeah, and even if that happens, Smashville gets to host some playoff hockey for the first time since 2012. That’s not so bad, is it?
If you find yourself getting down on the team and cursing their very existence, just remember that it could be worse, you could be a Leafs’ fan. Look, the Predators are going to be in the playoffs. Period. All that matters right now is that they’ll be there.
Sports Club Stats has the Predators’ playoff chances at 100%
The Predators still have Shea Weber, and he still does this:
Jan 24, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Team Toews defenseman Shea Weber (6) of the Nashville Predators during the hardest shot competition in the 2015 NHL All Star Game skills competition at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
And if that didn’t make you feel better, just remember to always look on the bright side of life.