The Nashville Predators’ season has reached the mid-season break. With several days off from real hockey, we get a chance to reflect on the season so far.
We have reached the mid-season bye week for the Nashville Predators, thankfully with two consecutive wins. With those points in their pockets, the Predators sit second in the Central Division. I am not sure if we should celebrate or be concerned. The ups and downs of the season thus far left me – and I am sure some of us – feeling weary at the moment.
Like any sports-blog, we came up with our season projections for the division prior to the start of the season. Now that we are halfway through the season, it seems like a good time to review what we said and see how things are going.
(Brief pause while I look through the projections)
Yep. I was wrong.
And, honestly, it feels good to be wrong. When I projected the Central Divison standings before the puck dropped on the season, it looked like this:
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- Chicago Blackhawks* (* = makes playoffs)
- Nashville Predators*
- Minnesota Wild*
- Dallas Stars*
- St.Louis Blues*
- Winnipeg Jets
- Colorado Avalanche
As it turns out, three of my projections (Predators, Stars, Avalanche) are correct. So, I am not completely off base. Furthermore, Minnesota is in contention for the playoffs. That makes four of five playoff prediction accurate to this point.
Truth is the Central Division is the toughest in the NHL. Every team has 47 points or more. No other division can say that, though the Metropolitan has three teams with 46 points. All seven teams in the Central have 21 or more wins. Finally, the Central Division teams all have 127 goals or more goals for AND 127 or less goal allowed. At least three teams in each of the other division fail those marks.
I should apologize
To the Winnipeg Jets: When I predicted your sixth, it was solely because I didn’t trust your defense. You can score, there is no doubt about that. With 151 goals, you trail only the Tampa Bay Lightning in that category. But, last season, you allowed 256 goals last year, fourth-most in the Western Conference. Now, you are seventh.
Connor Hellebuyck is having the best season of his young career and is 7-1-2 in his last 10 starts. That is rather impressive. As a team, the Jets have allowed 87 goals at even-strength. However, their penalty kill has not been as helpful. Still, the team is not allowing as many goals and are winning at home far more than last year.
To the St. Louis Blues: You are the San Antonio Spurs of the NHL. Well, they at least have some championships. So, let’s say you are the Memphis Grizzlies. You are in the playoffs every year but fall short of the Cup Final.
Vladimir Tarasenko is doing his thing yet again. With 44 points on the season, he is well on his way to another 70 point season. So is Brayden Schenn. Jaden Schwartz was playing extremely well prior to an injury. He is due to come back in the next few weeks. Should his high-level play continue, the Blues could boast four 60-point players this year.
And, Carter Hutton is playing out of his mind. Period.
The Blues are better than I thought. Except when you play the Predators.
And, the Chicago Blackhawks: Well, I am not sure the Reunion tour is working. Patrick Kane is leading the way with 45 points, but Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp are falling behind. Saad only has 6 points in his last 12 games. Of his 13 goals this year, six came in the opening six games. And Sharp has been anything but sharp. Granted, half of his season points have come in the last six weeks, but the production is not what was expected.
Now, Corey Crawford is out and no one knows when he will be back. I over-valued you. And, I am not longer fearful when the Nashville Predators play you.
As for the Predators
Okay, Nashville Predators. You are in good shape. I wrote earlier this week about the need to make a statement this month. Your next game may be the biggest of the season, as it is a home game against the best of the west. You already lost to them one in Bridgestone. You can’t afford another, especially if you want home ice in the playoffs.
Defense, stop some shots. The Predators cannot rely solely on Pekka Rinne to keep them in games.
The most positive thought about the rest of the season is the Nashville Predators two more games to play than the Jets. Four more than the Blues. A chance to win the Central is here. Now, it is time to do it.