Predators Can Make Up More Ground in Wildcard Race Tonight

NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 25: Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators celebrates his shootout goal against the Edmonton Oilers at Bridgestone Arena on February 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 25: Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators celebrates his shootout goal against the Edmonton Oilers at Bridgestone Arena on February 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Nashville Predators have their bye week coming up next week. Including tonight against Edmonton, the Predators have three games remaining.

What will the narrative be if the Nashville Predators win their next three games and enter their eight-day break on a five-game winning streak? Not only on a five-game winning streak, but quite possibly have six wins in eight games since the Winter Classic.

It just goes to show you how quickly things can change over the course of an 82-game season. The Predators have been up and down all season and it’s extremely difficult to figure out who they really are.

Despite all of the problems and not performing up to preseason expectations, the Predators find themselves just three points behind the team they play tonight for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Predators continue their road trip with a matchup against the Edmonton Oilers.

What makes the Oilers tough

You have to start with their top-ranked power play in the league. They convert nearly 30 percent of their power plays, which spell danger for a Predators team that has struggled all season with the penalty kill.

Nashville Predators
Nashville Predators /

Nashville Predators

First order of business if you’re the Predators tonight is to obviously play smart hockey and don’t take unnecessary penalties. They’re top-ten in the league in taking the most penalties per 60 minutes. They need to reverse that trend tonight. 

The Predators penalty kill has killed nine of their last 13 power plays in the last four games, which is below their season average of 74 percent that has them ranked 29th in the NHL. They have to start getting better in this area whether that’s better goaltending or a full system change from new head coach John Hynes.

The Oilers are also top-ten in killing penalties, so they’re very solid in special teams while the Predators are not.

Of course the Oilers have arguably the NHL’s best player in Connor McDavid, who is having another incredible season with 71 points and averaging nearly an assist per game. He’s riding a modest four-game point streak heading into this one.

It’s not just McDavid that can burn you on this team. They’re pretty deep and have another 70-point scorer right now with center Leon Draisaitl. He’s pushing McDavid for the team-lead in points, assists and goals.

They have a duo in net of Mike Smith Mikko Koskinen, who have similar season numbers to each other and have nearly split the starts.

And of course we can’t forget about our old friend James Neal, who plays on the top line with McDavid. He’s remaining productive for the Oilers this season with 19 goals. Let’s try not to let another former player burn us tonight.

What the Predators will roll with

They’re still missing Ryan Ellis and Colton Sissons, who are both on injured reserve. Dante Fabbro remains day-to-day and isn’t in the projected lineup from the Predators official website.

Despite missing these key players recently, the Predators are figuring out ways to win. They’re clogging up the middle of the ice and making it hard on the opposition to get quality shots. Credit is owed to Hynes to seeing where changes are needed and improving the team in that area.

What stands out about the lineup tonight is Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg playing on the second line together. They’ve been very beneficial to each other when playing together. Forsberg is looking to catch fire in the second half of the season, while Duchene has been heating up as of late.

Roman Josi lost his 12-game point streak in the last game, but he nearly extended it by just barely missing the empty net goal. He’s having an outstanding season that has him as a top candidate for his first career Norris Trophy.

Yakov Trenin

has been playing some great hockey as well and seems to keep getting better with each game he plays in. He’s played 11 games now this season and has six points and is playing a physical brand of hockey, but not taking careless penalties in the process.

It’s a 8 P.M. CDT puck drop for tonight and will be on Fox Sports Tennessee and streamed on ESPN+.

Filip Forsberg Looking to Catch Fire in 2nd Half for Predators. dark. Next

The Predators have just one regulation loss over the last 15 meetings with Edmonton. They badly need another two points tonight to get even closer to being back where they belong, which is in a playoff spot.