The Nashville Predators look to finish the regular season strong starting with a win versus Colorado.
One week. Four games. Zero Points.
Last week was not a week that should ever happen again for the Nashville Predators. Understand that losing two key defensemen didn’t help any cause but still, this is a playoff team, four consecutive losses should not happen.
The Nashville Predators also locked up the first overall Wild Card spot Sunday night and will start their playoff run in California against the Los Angeles Kings or the Anaheim Ducks. Either one of these series will be physical and defensive but if Ellis and Bitetto return to 100% and Pekka plays how Good Pekka should play, Nashville should be just fine and be able to handle their own.
Nashville also has a combined 3-1-2 record against both clubs this season.
Tuesday night brings the Colorado Ave’s back to Smashville for their second visit in two weeks. Colorado is the same team who helped trigger this four-game losing streak. The Nashville Predators will come into the game well rested and revenge may play a factor in this outcome.
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The Colorado Avalanche have come so close but seem so far away from clinching the elusive playoff berth. The Avalanche can be eliminated from contention in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a regulation loss, a win by the Minnesota Wild against the San Jose Sharks, or if the Wild and Avalanche both lose in overtime. That is a lot to digest but if your and Avs fan, there is still a chance.
Colorado may be in for another victory as they have won three out of the four meetings against the Predators including last weeks 4-3 victory in Bridgestone. Colorado will have to rely on their key contributors and stay even keel as a regulation loss will send most players to a golf course in two weeks. The Ave’s will hope for a little more luck seeing as they did not practice Monday after losing, at home, to the surging St. Louis Blues 5-1.
The Avs are lucky to have returned Matt Duchene back from the injury list but will still have to find a way into the playoffs without forward Nathan MacKinnon who is second in points (52) behind Duchene. Anything is possible this late in the season, that is what makes this game so great. Teams who shouldn’t be in the playoffs make it while 8th seeds have also won the Stanley Cup itself. Colorado must stay positive against a Nashville team that would love to send them packing as they want to end their four-game losing streak.
The Nashville Predators received a mixed bag of news Monday. The Predators recalled forward Cody Bass from Milwaukee to replace the injured Miikka Salomaki while the defenseman Ryan Ellis and Anthony Bitetto skated in practice on Monday which should light up all Pred fans eyes. The loss of Ryan Ellis was obviously a blow to the D-corp but I do not think anyone realized how important Tony Bitetto was to the roster.
Various defensive and offensive mishaps have led to Nashville dropping the last four in the row. Nashville does not need any of the points in the final three games but you should not start the playoffs on a seven-game losing streak. The ideal situation is that the Predators will win at least two of the three, or all three, and Pekka Rinne rests for at least one or two of them. If the Predators can gain the return of Salomaki, Bitetto, Ellis and a healthy rested Rinne they will be perfectly fine in the playoffs.
Not only is the clock ticking on the regular season, it is also ticking on Filip Forsberg‘s and James Neal‘s chance to break Jason Arnott‘s single season record of most goals in a season(33). They both sit at 31 apiece and it would be great to one or both of them assault this record. It time for these two goal scorers, as well as their linemates to start putting the puck in the back of the net.
The game is not a must-win for any points for standings or anything of that nature. This game means more for the morale of the Nashville Predators locker room. The Preds are a good team and can beat anyone they play but five losses in a row could start to hang over the heads of a few of the players as well as the coaching staff.
The Nashville Predators should walk out of Bridgestone with a much-needed victory Tuesday night but anything can happen this late in the season. Colorado is an extremely desperate team right now and will do anything and everything to stay alive and win this game. Nashville has clinched and needs to stay healthy but they must also keep the fight against all opponents for 60 minutes and not let up at any moment in those 60 minutes.
If Nashville can start to play their brand of hockey again, it could very well spark us on the sort of winning streak that boosted us from underdogs in January to Contenders in April. It’s your time to shine Smashville.
The Nashville Predators play the final regular season home game Thursday night for Fan Appreciation Night against the Arizona Coyotes. Nashville is 1-1-0 against the Coyotes this season.