The Nashville Predators have accomplished something that only seemed like a dream a few weeks ago. With the two wins over the weekend against the Chicago Blackhawks, they have climbed into the fourth position in the Central Division, aka the “playoff spot.”
The Predators are also riding a five-game winning streak going into tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars. The trick for the Predators will be to keep that streak alive and stay in the playoff spot for the remainder of the season. You can bet that teams like the Stars will be gunning for them.
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There was a time a few weeks ago where the roles were reversed for the Predators and the Stars. The Predators were sitting in the seventh spot in the standings on the cusp of a full-blown rebuild while the Stars were in the top three.
Things couldn’t be any more different now.
Wins have been sporadic for Dallas in March, having won only five of their seventeen matchups. Their record on the season now stands at 11-12-9, but they still have four games in hand against the rest of the division.
The Predators’ current winning streak began with a shootout win against the Stars on March 21. Since then, they haven’t looked back, winning seven of their last eight games, including a win over the Florida Panthers.
The Nashville Predators Have To Hold Serve At Home
Nashville is on fire at the moment and began heating up at just the right time. With the number of games left in the season dwindling, the Predators have to keep picking up points against the teams below them in the standings.
Saros missed the last game against Chicago with an injury but won all three of his starts last week, stopping 82 shots and only allowing three goals. His GAA now sits at 2.38 with a .923 SV%. If Saros is cleared, expect to see him in the net against the Stars, a team he memorably shut out twice in a row last season.
The consistent lineups that we have seen have been a refreshing change and are also a contributing factor to recent success. It is also great to see the players have a “next man up” attitude when injuries arise.
With players returning from injury, Head Coach John Hynes will have some line adjustments to make. Hopefully, if adjustments are made, they won’t be significant changes as any issues with consistency could prove disastrous against the always dangerous Stars.
The Eeli Tolvanen watch continues in Dallas. Tolvanen’s feed to Roman Josi for the game-winning goal against Chicago extended his streak to five games. He will look to continue his point streak tonight.
If Filip Forsberg is back in the lineup against Dallas, look for him and Tolvanen to continue to build their chemistry. This is a potent duo that has proved that they deserve to be linemates now and in the future.
The fourth playoff spot is now the Predators’ to lose. They must compete in every game with intensity, and they can’t let up for a second. The Stars will be playing hungry as they need every point to try to climb back up in the standings.
The Predators and Stars have split the wins in their four matchups this season. It is always a battle between these two teams, and tonight’s matchup should be no different.
With two points up for grabs, a rejuvenated lineup, and two recent wins against the Stars, the Predators should be able to keep up their momentum from the weekend and beat a struggling Dallas team.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, whether or not the Predators can stay in the fourth playoff spot will have ramifications on the team’s direction. Hard decisions may have to be made very soon. I don’t envy the position that GM David Poile now finds himself in.
The puck drops at 7:00 PM CDT and will be televised on Fox Sports Tennessee. Follow along with us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute game commentary.