Nashville Predators April Preview: Let’s Do This


March Review

I don’t want to talk about it. Seriously, I don’t. March wasn’t fun for the Nashville Predators. It’s a terrible, stupid month and I never want to see it again. They went 6-7-2 and accumulated just 14 of a possible 30 points for the month. Not exactly a stellar performance by any measure. The only bright side of the month is that

it’s over

it would seem that the Predators’ struggles are behind them and they have (mostly) righted the ship.

Nashville sits at 103 points after 78 games, leading the St. Louis Blues by four points, though St. Louis does have two games in hand. Also, Chicago is back on the up-swing. They’re 7-3-0 in their last 10 and currently have 98 points. Should Nashville and St. Louis falter, Chicago could find their way back on top of the division.

With the regular season winding down, every game holds a great deal of importance when it comes to playoff seeding. Despite a horrid March record, the Predators enter April on top of the Central Division. Number one in the division would pit Nashville against one of the wildcard teams. Right now, it’s looking likely that the wildcard teams will be Minnesota and either Los Angeles or Winnipeg.

Take a deep breath, and let’s dive on in.

Four To Go

Okay, before we all get ahead of ourselves with playoff talk, let’s take a look at what’s left in store for the Predators’ regular season. They start off the month at home on the 4th against Dallas, the 7th in Colorado, 9th back at home against the Minnesota, and they finish off the regular season at Dallas to face the Stars for the second time in a week on the 11th.

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Keep an eye on the game against the Minnesota Wild on the 9th. It could well be a preview of the first round of the playoffs.

Dallas is fighting for their playoff lives, but they should be officially eliminated by the time you’re done reading this sentence. They are 7-3-0 in their last 10, though. It’s like no one told them that their season is over and they just need to let it go. Actually, Dallas could really help Nashville out in April. They play St. Louis and Anaheim. Beating both of those teams and losing twice to the Predators would go a long way to helping Nashville secure the number one seed in the playoffs.

Colorado is done and has been done for ages. They sit dead last in the Central, but like the Stars they are still not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Minnesota will still be fighting for more favorable playoff positioning coming down the stretch, so don’t look for them to start rolling over any time soon. They’re another team that could help Nashville down the stretch by beating St. Louis and Chicago, and of course, losing to the Predators.

To put the toughness of the Central Division in perspective, not a single team from the division is technically eliminated from playoff contention, yet EVERY OTHER DIVISION has at least two teams that have been all but dead for at least a month. Hell, the Metropolitan Division has four teams that are D-U-N done. Winning the Central should earn you a first round bye, it really should.

…and four more, and then four more..

Okay, so here we go with the playoff scenarios. Instead of breaking down every game and every little minutia of detail, let’s just say it like this: If the Predators win out, they’ll win the division. They have eight points up for grabs, and they need all of them. If they win all four games, SportsClubStats has them at 100% to win the Central with a 63% chance to win the West outright. At 2-2-0, that drops to a 50/50 chance to win the Central, and I feel that’s being kind. I think it will take at least 108 points will win the division, maybe 109.

(These scenarios are the ones most likely to occur. i.e. It is mathematically possible that Colorado or Dallas makes the playoffs, but I didn’t include things like that, because I’m not going to bore you with stuff that will never happen.)

If the Predators are the #1 overall seed in the West:

They will play either Winnipeg or Los Angeles. These are the two teams fighting for that final playoff spot. At the moment, Winnipeg holds the edge with 90 points to LA’s 88. LA has played one less game. I would personally rather play Winnipeg in the first round. The Kings have this pesky habit of sneaking into the playoffs and winning the whole thing (twice).

If the Predators win the Central, but not the West:

They will play the Minnesota Wild, and it may be bad. Devan Dubnyk has mad himself into an amazing goaltender. I’m not sure who his fairy godmother is or where he found her, but hopefully that spell wears off by April 15th, because otherwise this is going to be one tough series. No one wants to see the Wild in the first round.

If the Predators lose the Central:

They will probably play the Blackhawks in the first round while holding home-ice advantage. Here’s the thing though, I don’t mind this one bit. I think the Predators match up well against the Blackhawks, especially with Patrick Kane still out. It may come down to who has the better goalie, and I’ll take Pekka Rinne over Corey Crawford any day of the week.

I don’t see the Predators dropping below second in the division, but IF they were to, they’d still probably play Chicago, but with Chicago having home-ice.

So, the best bet for Nashville is to just do that thing where they win a lot. There’s no back-to-backs. They will head into Saturday against the Stars after 92 hours worth of rest. They have another three days before their next game after that. There is no reason that the Predators shouldn’t be well rested for these four games this month. There’s no more time to talk about “improving” and “getting better each day”. There’s only time to win.

April Schedule Highlights

There will be a minimum of four home games in April. Two regular season and two playoff games. Playoff games in Nashville are intense. They are amazing. They are spectacles built upon an even bigger spectacle. You should probably go to one or two is what I’m saying.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin

April 7th there will be a game against the Avalanche in Colorado. There is absolutely nothing special about it.

  • Minnesota comes to town for the final(?) time this season on April 9th. Please quit booing Ryan Suter.
  • April 11th against Dallas should be interesting. The Stars will be officially eliminated, and the Predators may be in a situation in which they have to win that game to seal the division. Dallas will be playing just to mess with their plans. They’ll know what they have to do before the game though. The Blues will finish their season right before the Predators drop the puck.

    April 15th. Go ahead and circle that date in your calendars. That’s the day the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin. Buy your tickets now.

    Team Expectations

    At this point, I have no idea. You never seem to know which team is going to show up on a given night. Will it be the team that beat Montreal and Tampa Bay right in a row, or will it be the team that blows a two goal lead against a team they had dominated all year?

    My crystal ball is hazy, but I don’t need it. Your Nashville Predators will win the Central Division. St. Louis has one hell of an April schedule. Six games, one back-to-back, Chicago twice, and Minnesota to close out the season. If they lose two of those in regulation, the Predators need to only go 2-1-1 to clinch.  Chicago would pretty much have to win every game to jump Nashville.

    Next: Jimmy Vesey Returning To Harvard for Senior Season

    One thing of note here is that Nashville holds the first tiebreaker over both teams right now. It’s Regulation and Overtime Wins (ROW). Nashville is at 41 while St. Louis and Chicago are at 37.

    Bold Predictions

    First off, I’d like to say that I fully expect to be writing another one of these previews come May 1st.

    Nashville wins their first round playoff series against the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. Do some math and you can figure out what else I’m implying here.

    Mike Santorelli scores two more goals before the playoffs start.

    Speaking of Mikes, Peter Laviolette finally reads my emails and puts Santorelli, Mike Ribeiro, and Mike Fisher on the same line during the last game of the season. I laugh and laugh because apparently I’m a child who will laugh at something like that.

    March Predictions Recap

    I predicted the Predators would take 21 points last month. I was wrong. By 3 1/2 games. But they DID hold on to the top spot in the Central, so points for me.

    I also predicted 10 points for Seth Jones in March. Yada, yada, yada he ended up with three. Once again, way off.

    I thought for sure that Nashville would beat Los Angeles AND Anaheim. For five periods it looked like I was going to be right. Then Anaheim scored four goals in the third and ruined it for me.

    I did correctly predict that Roman Josi would pull away from Shea Weber for the lead in points by a defenseman. Josi has 55, Weber 45. So there’s that.