Predators’ Road to the Playoffs Gets Even Tougher Tonight vs. Dallas

DALLAS, TEXAS - JANUARY 01: Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators and Roope Hintz #24 of the Dallas Stars compete for the loos puck during the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Cotton Bowl on January 01, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TEXAS - JANUARY 01: Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators and Roope Hintz #24 of the Dallas Stars compete for the loos puck during the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Cotton Bowl on January 01, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

A pair of games against the Dallas Stars beginning tonight at home for the Nashville Predators leaves a tall task ahead to stay relevant in playoff hunt.

The Nashville Predators are in desperate need of a big spark, much like they had in a pair of games against the St.Louis Blues last month, as they now take on the Dallas Stars twice in a row.

Dallas is no joke and a legitimate Western Conference contender to represent in the Stanley Cup Final. They do everything very well and are so much more balanced than what the Predators can say right now.

This is do-or-die time for the Predators, and that’s not me being overly sensational. The rest of the wildcard pack is gaining steam, and the Predators no longer have those games in hand to fall back on.

The decision to do seemingly nothing at the trade deadline will be further scrutinized if the Predators continue to slide backward.

How bad do we want it?

I’ve heard many fans say “What’s the point in making the playoffs? We’re just going to lose in the first round anyway”.

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I can tell you that the players aren’t thinking that way. They’re thinking they just have to get in, and anything can happen just like 2017.

However, this team is nothing like the 2017 team. The only comparison we can draw between the two is that they’re both coming down the stretch trying to sneak into the playoff field. That’s it.

There’s just no chemistry at times with the Predators, despite having a lot of the same players playing together for several seasons in a row now.

The only way the Predators are going to beat solid and complete teams like the Stars tonight, is if they’re top players start showing up more consistently.

I’ve been harping on this for a while now. The top players are on this team, like Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene may be impacting the game in other ways, but sooner or later they have to start producing in the way of scoring big time goals and producing big time scoring chances in crunch time.

Mikael Granlund did that for a few games in a row, and Roman Josi has been that constant contributor to lean on all season. It gets bleak after that, aside from some of your role players like Nick Bonino and the third line.No love lost between these two

This game is going to carry a lot of emotions tonight, and a lot will go way past the sport of hockey.

The devastating tornadoes that ripped through downtown Nashville late Tuesday night and into the early morning hours will bring a somber feeling to the arena. I’m hoping fans can heal together tonight, support some great causes to help those in need and see a great hockey game.

Focusing on the game itself, the Predators are going to come into this game angry and focused to not give up an inch. The time for catchy phrases in postgame interviews are over.

The Predators really can’t afford too many more losses in regulation, per Adam Vingan’s tweet from earlier today:

The margin for error is pretty much gone, and now they’re going up against a Stars team that has had their number over the last two seasons, including the playoff elimination and the Winter Classic thumping.

The Stars are starting to lose ground in the division race as they’re at 82 points, and eight points behind the division-leading St.Louis Blues. It’s looking highly probable that the Stars will finish in the third spot of the division.

I do really like the projected lines going into this game, most notably the second line of Forsberg, Duchene and Granlund. If this trio lives up to their names, they should have plenty of success and generate a lot of scoring chances.

Johansen is a player I’ve been really disappointed in this season. He has just five points in just over a month’s worth of games dating back to February 1st. As a top-six forward, that just won’t get it done.

The race to see who ends up leading the Predators in goals this season will be fun to watch as there’s a three-way tie at the top with 18 goals. You got Forsberg, Bonino and Smith all at the top, with Granlund at 17 goals and Josi at 16 goals.

The Stars are led by youngster Denis Gurianov with 20 goals, followed by Jamie Benn with 19 goals and Roope Hintz with 18 goals. They can beat you from so many different ways, including smothering defense and outstanding goaltending.

It’s going to take a near perfect game from the Predators, maybe a lucky bounce or two, minimal trips to the penalty box and a rock solid showing in net from Juuse Saros.

That’s a lot that has to happen for the Predators to pull the upset. But the stakes are even higher with everything else going on.

Call me crazy, but I think the Predators answer the call tonight and deliver a great performance for the Nashville fans when they need it most.

No pun intended, but I think the stars align tonight and the Predators leave everything they have on the ice to get this win. Perhaps they catch the Stars napping a bit as they’re comfortably in the third spot of the division.

Puck drop is 7 P.M. CDT from Bridgestone Arena, and you can purchase the “Nashville Strong” t-shirts and sweatshirts to benefit tornado victims and relief as well! All the more reason to show up to the game tonight.

You can also purchase the shirts online now at this link. Hope to see everyone who can make it at the game. Let’s come together Nashville and support our Predators!