Some of the big stars of this Nashville Predators team are starting to catch fire, and that’s a beautiful sight to see as the wildcard race heats up.
Coming off a very impressive couple of wins over the Dallas Stars, the Nashville Predators followed that up with a road win over the Montreal Canadiens last night.
This latest win puts them temporarily in the top wildcard spot with 78 points, which is tied with the Vancouver Canucks. It’s also tied with the Winnipeg Jets, but they sit on the outside looking in thanks to tiebreakers.
The wildcard race is obviously going to be a day-to-day thing to keep a close eye on. The Predators smack dab in the middle of it as most teams have played either 69 or 70 games up to this point.
Forsberg returning to form
What a welcome sight it is to see Filip Forsberg starting to take control and return to the form we’re used to seeing him in.
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He padded the lead last night against Montreal, scoring two goals in less than eight minutes of regulation time in the 2nd period to widen the lead to 4-0 Nashville.
It was also cool to see the old JoFA line link up on Johansen’s goal, as Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson tallied the assist on the game’s first goal.
Forsberg now has 21 goals on the season to go along with 27 assists. If this is a sign of things to come down the stretch run, the Predators should be in for several more wins over the last 13 games.
Juuse Saros staying hot
What a turnaround it’s been for Saros over the last couple of month. Since John Hynes took over, Saros has a save percentage above 93 percent, and is steadily piling up the wins. He’s now up to 17 wins, which ties his career high set last season.
Saros already has the most starts of his career at 34, and that number will keeping rising as he’s now the team’s primary starter in net over Pekka Rinne.
Last night Saros piled up 32 saves on 34 shots face, which followed up back-to-back shutouts over the Dallas Stars. He’s clearly locked in and helping the Predators keep a tight grip in the wildcard race.
For much of the season, the goaltending was an eyesore for the team. Not all because of Saros or Rinne, but now it seems like that problem is being corrected in terms of when Saros gets the start.
We’ll still see Rinne get starts in back-to-back situations, but it’s Saros’ starting role from here on out, and hopefully in the playoffs.
The Predators next play on Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, which will be a much tougher opponent. That will continue a four-game road trip, which will move onto Columbus on Saturday, and finish in Minnesota for a critical game with wildcard implication on Sunday.
This race is going to remain interesting until the very last week of the regular season in April. I don’t see Minnesota, Winnipeg or Vancouver fading backward too far.
The Predators are going to have to keep winning at a pace of around three out of every four, or at the very least two out of every three.
There’s also still a mild chance that the Predators catch the slumping Stars who have lost five in a row and just four points ahead of the Predators. But we’ll just focus on the wildcard for now.