Predators Crazy Playoff Push Enters Critical Stretch

Roman Josi #59, Nick Bonino #13, and Rocco Grimaldi #23 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Roman Josi #59, Nick Bonino #13, and Rocco Grimaldi #23 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

It looks abundantly clear that the Nashville Predators are going to enter the last game or two of the season needing a win to get in.

The current playoff race in the Western Conference is insane right now as every team has 14 games or fewer left on their schedule, and the Nashville Predators are firmly in the middle of it.

Scoreboard watching isn’t always fun, but we can’t help but do that now with several teams in the wildcard race who are in the same spot as the Predators are.

I was always holding out hope that the Predators would hit a lengthy winning streak and create some breathing room in the playoff race, but that’s probably not going to happen.

After all of the downfalls, it’s actually pretty astonishing that the Predators are even in this position to secure a sixth-straight playoff appearance.

Buckle in for a crazy finish

Each night the playoff picture is shifting, and the margin for error is very slim for each team in this race. The main teams pushing for these two wildcard spots are:

  • Wildcard 1: Minnesota Wild (77 points, 13 games remaining)
  • Wildcard 2: Vancouver Canucks (76 points, 14 games remaining)
  • First team out: Nashville Predators (76 points, 14 games remaining)
  • Second team out: Winnipeg Jets (76 points, 13 games remaining)
  • Third team out: Arizona Coyotes (74 points, 13 games remaining)
  • Fourth team out: Chicago Blackhawks (70 points, 13 games remaining)

You also still have a very close race in the Pacific Division, with the Calgary Flames only at 79 points and could easily fall back into or out of a wildcard spot with just 12 games remaining.

What does this mean for the Predators? It means almost no room for error anymore. No more stretches of bad hockey and no shows can be afforded.

Tonight’s set of games are a perfect example of scoreboard watching as Winnipeg and Arizona are in action against each other, so one of those teams will move up and could create a four-way tie in points.

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We have to hope for regulation wins in these head-to-head matchups so that at least one team is coming up empty handed.

This is the nerve-racking spot the Predators put themselves in by being so inconsistent and unpredictable for much of the season.

They responded in a big way the last two games against the Dallas Stars, winning both in shutout fashion. They have the Montreal Canadiens up next on Tuesday night, and it’s a game the Predators need to handle business in.

What’s it going to take?

For me to feel very confident about the Predators being one of the two wildcard teams at the conclusion of the regular season, they need ten wins over their last 14. That would put them at 96 points.

Looking at the remaining schedule for the Predators, they have the 12th-most difficult schedule remaining per

This is based off point percentages for the remaining opponents. The Predators have a critical four-game road trip up next, with Montreal, Toronto, Columbus and Minnesota again.

It’s feasible that the Predators should win three of those four, and most importantly beat Minnesota to lock up the season series.

The Predators can control their own destiny by winning their head-to-head games remaining against other wildcard hopeful teams like Minnesota, Winnipeg and Arizona.

Other than that, it’s going to require a lot of scoreboard watching. I’m sticking to my guns and predicting that the Predators end up as the final wildcard team along with Winnipeg in the first position.

I like what I’m seeing from Juuse Saros as the Predators are finally getting some reliable goaltending, and playing better in front of them.

The Predators have four more back-to-backs remaining, so those will be critical as well.

Next. Third Defensive Pairing Showing Signs of Improvement for Predators. dark

We’ll see Pekka Rinne in at least four more starts, and hopefully we can see the team come up with better efforts to help him break out of his funk.