The Nashville Predators are the best in the NHL against the Eastern Conference; however, they need to win against teams in the West.
The story is clearly written. When healthy, the Nashville Predators are one of the best teams in the NHL. With 60 points on the season, Nashville is starting to separate themselves from the rest of the Central Division, with the exception on Winnipeg. Given the turmoil and injuries the team has faced this season, it is impressive to see where the Predators stand.
Adding to the glory of this team is their success over the top teams in the league. After defeating the Washington Capitals last night in blowout fashion, the Predators are 15-4-3 against the Eastern Conference. The Predators wins include sweeping the division leaders and a shutout over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not only have they won against these teams, the Predators have outscored them 24-8.
Of course, on Sunday, the Carolina Hurricanes dismissed Nashville 6-3. That burned a bit.
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The success against the Eastern Conference is refreshing. It shows the Nashville Predators are able to compete with the best teams in the NHL and those predicted to represent the east in the Stanley Cup Final. The only contending team they have not played is the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That is all well and good, but there is a bigger concern for the Predators. While they are successful against the Eastern Conference, the Predators are mediocre within their own conference.
Take Care of Business
You can’t win the Stanley Cup if you don’t win the Conference Final. Right now, the Predators are 13-12-4 against teams in their own conference. They have already shutout Winnipeg once this season, but that was the fourth game of the year. They beat the Calgary Flames on the road as well, but also have two losses against them. The San Jose Sharks has two wins over Nashville. Edmonton is 1-1-0 against the Predators. Finally, Nashville holds a victory over the Western Conference Champion Vegas Golden Knights.
The good news in all of this is when many of the losses took place. Viktor Arvidsson was injured against the Dallas Starts on November 10, 2018, and missed 21 games. The team went 9-10-2 during that span. Eight of those 10 losses in regulation came against the Western Conference.
Of course, it is not all on Arvidsson. P.K. Subban and Filip Forsberg were also missing action during this stretch. The team was forced to play Pekka Rinne on back-to-back night because Juuse Saros was sick. Kyle Turris is still out.
Now, the Nashville Predators are nearly healthy. Twenty-three of their final 34 games come against the Western Conference. Three game remain against Winnipeg, two of which are on the road, and only one against San Jose. The Predator will have to travel for 13 conference games. The Predators do not face the Flames again this season.
Most of us would agree that earning home ice in the playoffs is ideal for the Predators. Currently, the Jets lead the Central Division by two points and have two games in hand. Calgary has 64 points, leading San Jose by 2 points and Vegas by four.
In order to earn home ice, the Predators essentially need to win three more games than every other team in the conference. With the team healthy, it is possible. Regardless, the Nashville Predators need to start taking care of teams in the Western Conference like they have against the Eastern.