How the Nashville Predators Stack Up in Heated Wildcard Race

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - FEBRUARY 16: Kyle Turris #8 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - FEBRUARY 16: Kyle Turris #8 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

The wildcard race is heating up in both conferences, and it’s fair to say that the Nashville Predators won’t get higher than that at season’s end.

Sure, the math is there for the Nashville Predators to go on an improbable hot streak and surge into a top-three spot in the Central Division. But let’s deal in realistic scenarios.

The Predators are probably a wildcard or bust type of team, which isn’t a death sentence as we all know from 2017.

However, the race is crowed as usual, and a few other teams have solid chances at being one of the two wildcard teams as well.

Out of all the teams in the wildcard hunt, how do the Predators stack up? Are they one of the better teams out of this group, or are they going to eventually fade into oblivion and put us out of our misery for this season?

Assessing the field

Call me crazy, but I’m including every team in the Pacific Division in this discussion aside from Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose. Sorry, California.

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As for the Central Division, I’m not eliminating anyone from the discussion. Even Chicago, although a long shot for sure.

So where do I put the Predators at in this cluster of teams? Well, let’s start with who I’m not putting them ahead. First and foremost, the Vegas Golden Knights are my pick to eventually win the Pacific.

That leaves Vancouver and Edmonton as the other two teams to most likely round out the top three.

All of those teams are clearly better than the Predators, and have taken care of business, and dominated to a degree, in head-to-head matchups.

The top three teams in the Central are pretty locked in and are battling it out for which order they finish in. That leaves these teams remaining for the two wildcard spots:

  • Calgary (61 games, 68 points, 1st wildcard spot)
  • Arizona (63 games, 68 points, 2nd wildcard spot)
  • Winnipeg (61 games, 67 points, one point back)
  • Nashville ( 59 games, 65 points, three points back)
  • Minnesota (59 games, 63 points, five points back)
  • Chicago ( 60 games 60 points,eight points back)

Predicting how it all finishes

Obviously, the Blackhawks are probably done. But, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. With that said, the Predators have played pretty well against Chicago winning two of three. The loss was lopsided however in 7-2 fashion.

Even with that one horrendous loss back in November, I have the Predators clearly better than Chicago and not having to worry about them in this wildcard race.

Minnesota has been a surprise this season. I had them pegged as finishing in last place and not having much of a chance in a tough division.

I’ve been wrong about them, and they haven’t played the Predators since October.

In those two meeting, the Predators have outscored Minnesota 9-2. The Wild are a nice story, but unless the Predators fall flat on their face, they should finish ahead of them in this race.

Winnipeg is the team that can steal the thunder from the Predators, and I do think they’ll be one of the two wildcard teams when it’s all said and done. They have the scoring weapons and solid enough goaltending with Connor Hellebuyck to finish this season strong.

The Jets are 6-3-1 in their last ten and bolstered up their blueline by adding defenseman Dylan DeMelo. So they’ve gotten better before the deadline, and might make another move or two.

So it comes down to the Predators chasing down Arizona and Calgary. Two teams who have played more games than the Predators, and have looked very pedestrian as of late.

The Predators play Calgary and Arizona each one more time, Calgary next week and Arizona coming late in March. Lot of games left with all of these teams just mentioned.

In the end, I think the Predators keep making progress under head coach John Hynes, they get Ryan Ellis back and some of their top stars start finding the net more often, like Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene.

None of this means I like their chances of getting past the first round, or even going to a Game 7, but they’ll at least avoid the travesty of missing the playoffs altogether.

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I like the chances of the Predators passing up both of these teams and getting the final wildcard spot. They’ll do enough to creep in, and leave us wondering if they can even sniff the second round.