The Nashville Predators are going to make the playoffs with only eight games to go.
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After Thursday night, we have a nine point lead on Colorado. That means that if the Predators go 4-4-0 in their last eight, if the Av’s went 8-0 they still wouldn’t catch us. It could still happen but it is highly unlikely.
We could still catch Chicago as we are only two points behind them although we would have to pass them outright as opposed to finish in a tie with them as the ROW is the first tiebreaker and with all of our overtime losses they would win that. We could possibly catch St. Louis as we are only six behind them but it is much less likely.
With all of that in mind, we are going to be playing a really good team in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. There aren’t going to be any bad teams and the two behind us, Minnesota and Colorado, we only have a less than 1% chance of meeting in the first round. Right now we have a 42% chance of facing the Kings, a 21% chance of the Stars and a 17% chance of meeting St. Louis. There is also a 13% chance to face Anaheim.
Even if the Predators were to catch the Blackhawks and tie them for third place, they would lose the tie breaker based on all of those dreadful overtime losses. So if you are going to move ahead of them it will have to be by winning games down the stretch and getting the two points. We would actually have to jump ahead of St. Louis and/or the Stars as well to gain any home ice advantage. Overtime wins won’t get you there and it’s pretty tough even with the wins.
Pekka Could Use Rest
Pekka Rinne has played in 60 of the 74 games so far. When he took two in a row 10 games back, he came back with a vengeance and has played fantastic ever since then. There is only one back to back remaining on the schedule but it would be nice to see Pekka get at least two games off during this stretch and yet play enough to keep sharp going into the playoffs.
Play Hard, But Stay Healthy
We want to win games and collect points but right now going into the playoffs healthy might even be more important. Even if we get to a point where we clinch a spot, you want to keep your edge by playing hard. You don’t want to lose a key player going into the first round, though.
We are probably going to be deeper than at any point in the season soon. We have had six rookies play extensively and everyone seems to be coming back from the injured list. We may even be adding a player if Jimmy Vesey signs with the Preds. You can use plenty of players in the playoffs but let’s keep them healthy going in.
Keep the Chemistry
With players returning and the possible Vesey addition, it is going to take a juggling act by Coach Lavy to keep the recent
chemistry of the forward lines strong. Do you use Colton Sissons or Paul Gaustad when he returns? Where do Colin Wilson, who has shown a recent resurgence and Miikka Salomaki fit in? Do you replace Calle Jarnkrok on the first line with Jimmy Vesey?
It takes a few games to have players get comfortable with each other. We’ve already seen that. Can Lavy be a Master Chemist with this team?
Momentum is Huge
We saw what happened last season when the Predators were the best team in the league near midseason and slipped down the stretch. They limped into the playoffs and were eliminated in the first round, albeit in a tough series with the eventual Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.
Right now, the Preds are sending a message to the rest of the West and no one wants a matchup against them in the first round. That message needs to continue right into the playoffs.
The schedule is favorable with five of the last eight at home. There are tough games in there with one against the Penguins and two against the Stars. The Predators need to keep on rolling just like they have and start a long, deep run in the playoffs.