The NHL playoff race is onto the final stretch, and heated wildcard races are the talk of both conferences. How do the Nashville Predators stack up ?
So how do the Nashville Predators stack up in this crowded wildcard race as we go down the home stretch of the 2019-20 NHL season?
The Central has a solid chance to represent the West in the Stanley Cup Final again and this NHL playoff race will come down to the wire.
The top three teams are the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars. These teams should remain the same going into the playoffs but their order could be shifted.
Currently the Blues have 90 points with 15 games remaining. The Avalanche have 87 points with 17 games left, while the Stars have 82 points with 16 games left.
The only shakeup I can see here is the Avalanche passing the Blues for first in the division. The Avalanche and Blues are both riding seven-game winning streaks, but with the Avs having a slightly easier March schedule, I predict them passing the Blues for the division crown.
The Pacific Division race is close and could come down to the very end.
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Currently the Vegas Golden Knights hold the top spot with 80 points and 15 games remaining. The Edmonton Oilers are in second with 80 points and 15 games left to play. The Calgary Flames hold a slight third place lead over the Vancouver Canucks with 75 points and 15 games remaining.
There should be quite a shakeup in this race. Based on recent performance and remaining schedule, this is how I predict the top three teams in the Pacific finish.
- Golden Knights
The NHL playoff wildcard race in the West will be intense and looks to be a five-team race.
Currently in wildcard spots are the Vancouver Canucks with 74 points and 17 GR and the Winnipeg Jets with 74 points and 14 GR. The Calgary Flames only hold a slim one-point lead over the Canucks with two more games played. Expect the Flames and Canucks to trade spots soon.
In the hunt are the Nashville Predators (72 points 16 GR), Minnesota Wild (73 points 16 GR), and Arizona Coyotes (72 points 15 GR). The Chicago Blackhawks are a long shot, but still have a chance, at 68 points and 16 GR.
The Predators, Coyotes and Wild each play at least one of these teams in five of their remaining games.
The Canucks, Jets and Flames each play at least one of these wildcard hopefuls four times. These head-to-head results will make or break these teams and decide who will make the playoffs.
Unfortunately, I do not see the Nashville Predators making the playoffs based on their remaining schedule. There is a decent chance, but it requires them to beat the wildcard competitors head-to-head.
Losing to Minnesota last night was brutal for the Predators chances, but it can still happen. They play the Wild two more times before the season wraps up.
If the Predators do indeed miss the playoffs, it will snap five-straight seasons of making the playoffs, all under former Head Coach Peter Laviolette.
The Predators can’t take too many more losses against these teams they’re in the wildcard race with like they did last night.
Western Wildcard Race Predictions:
Wildcard 1: Flames
Wildcard 2: Wild
Out of playoffs 3: Predators
Out of Playoffs 4: Jets
Out of playoffs 5: Coyotes
Out of playoffs 6: Blackhawks
The Atlantic Division has its good teams, then it has its bad teams, and then it has the very bad teams.
The Boston Bruins are in first place with 96 points and 15 games remaining, followed by the Tampa Bay Lightning with 87 points and 16 games remaining.
Then the drop off happens. The Toronto Maple Leafs are holding down third place with 78 points 16 games left, and one loss to an emergency backup goalie.
The struggling Florida Panthers are in fourth with 73 points and 16 GR.
I don’t see any form of shakeup here. It will probably stay how it is now going into the playoffs.
- Maple Leafs
The Metropolitan Division
The Metro Division may be the most exciting division in hockey this year. The current top-three are the Washington Capitals with 86 points and 17 games remaining, the Philadelphia Flyers with 83 points 17 GR, and the Pittsburgh Penguins with 82 points 17 GR.
Right behind the Penguins are the New York Islanders, who are just four points back of the Penguins with zero games in hand to fall back on.
Three other teams are also gunning at the Penguins, with the Columbus Blue Jackets only four points back. However, the Blue Jackets have played two more games as well.
The Carolina Hurricanes are seven points back with one game in hand.
Then you have the most interesting team in hockey, the New York Rangers. They’re surprisingly only eight points back with an extra game played.
Based on the March schedule I don’t see much shifting taking pla but I think this wildcard race will keep getting more and more interesting.
Eastern Wildcard Race
Let’s not kid ourselves here, the wildcard spots will belong to two metro teams. The NHL playoff race in the East belongs to the Metro this season, and the Atlantic is absolutely owned by their top three teams with not much depth after.
Currently the Islanders (78 points,17 GR) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (78 points, 15 GR) occupy the two wildcard spots.
The Islanders have lost four-straight but should bounce back, especially with games in hand. I don’t see them slipping.
However, Columbus just recently snapped an eight-game losing skid, but is so injury riddled I’m not sure much can save them.
This leaves two teams for the final spot, and that’s the New York Rangers and the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Canes went 6-5-2 last month and have a one-point lead on the Rangers with two games in hand, but the Rangers have been the biggest surprise for me this season.
The Rangers went 11-4 in February and completed the series sweep of Carolina going 4-0 against them this season.
However, rookie goaltender Igor Shesterkin recently was involved in a car accident and is out day-to-day with a broken rib. Additionally, defenseman Chris Kreider is out indefinitely after getting injured in the first period against the Flyers.
More bumps in the road for the Rangers, but their high-powered offense consisting of Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad has been unstoppable recently. In the Rangers last 11 games, Zibanejad has 18 points, while Panarin has 17 points.
Unreal numbers for a team that’s only been getting hotter. And they went 3-1 against the Islanders and 2-1 so far against the Blue Jackets this season.
Eastern Conference Wildcard Predictions:
Wildcard 1: New York Islanders
Wildcard 2: New York Rangers
Out of playoffs 3: Carolina Hurricanes
Out of playoffs 4: Columbus Blue Jackets
Out of playoffs 5: Florida Panthers
Out of playoffs 6: Montreal Canadiens
Both Big Apple teams sneak into the playoffs in this crazy race in the East.
Full NHL Playoff Race Predictions
(1) Colorado Avalanche vs
(WC 2) Minnesota Wild
(2) St. Louis Blues vs
(3) Dallas Stars
(1) Edmonton Oilers
(WC 1) Calgary Flames
(2) Vegas Golden Knights vs
(3) Vancouver Canucks
(1) Boston Bruins vs
(WC 2) New York Rangers
(2) Tampa Bay Lightning vs
(3) Toronto Maple Leafs
(1) Washington Capitals vs
(WC 1) New York Islanders
(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs
(3) Pittsburgh Penguins