Nashville Predators: The Keys To Closing Out The Season

(Photo Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports) /

There are only five regular-season games left to close out the 2020-21 season for the Nashville Predators. These last few games could decide if they make the playoffs for the seventh straight year or if their crazy season with its many twists and turns will come to a close.

The Predators have to take these last games one at a time as they have all season. They have some tough opponents coming up, and every win is crucial.

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The Games That Remain

Up first is a team that is also gunning for the 4th playoff spot in the Central Division, the Dallas Stars. The Stars are only two points behind the Predators but still have a game in hand. Nashville’s saving grace may be the demanding schedule that lies ahead for Dallas.

The Predators will then go on to face the Columbus Blue Jackets for a two-game set. Nashville has beaten Columbus five out of six times this season but hasn’t faced them since late February. The Blue Jackets will look to play spoiler and dash the Predators’ playoff hopes.

If the Predators take the next three games, they still have a massive hurdle to overcome for the season’s final two games. Nashville will finish out their season playing the Carolina Hurricanes twice in Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators have yet to beat the Hurricanes this season. The closest they have come was a 3-2 overtime loss on March 9. While it was good to pick up a point against one of the top teams in the league, it still stings that Nashville has yet to figure out how to beat this worthy opponent.

What The Nashville Predators Must Do To Close Out The Season

Unfortunately, due to their horrible start to the season, the Predators may have to rely on the misfortune of the Stars to secure their playoff spot. After Saturday’s game, Dallas will still have to face the Florida Panthers, the Tampa Bay Lightning two more times, and the Chicago Blackhawks twice as well.

The point scenario that the Predators face is why every point is crucial, and even picking up one point in overtime losses will probably not get the job done. My prediction is that Nashville must, at a minimum, win four out of their last five games. Once again, Dallas’ game in hand could be the spoiler.

The main thing the Predators must do is protect their goaltender at all costs. Their defensive lapses in their final game against the Panthers showed how quickly things could get out of hand.

Juuse Saros is playing out of his mind right now and deserves a better team in front of him, especially when he has a game like the Panther loss where he made a career-high 49 saves. Protecting the net should be Nashville’s number one focus.

The other key area that the Predators need to shore up is offense, including their dismal power-play. The teams that remain on their schedule are defensive-minded, and it will be hard for the Predators to get some pucks in the net unless they can find some scoring.

One bright spot is the news that Filip Forsberg is very close to returning to the lineup, possibly as soon as Saturday. Forsberg’s return should give the Predators a much-needed shot in the arm of offense, especially now that Eeli Tolvanen is back from injury as well.

The Predators also need to shore up their defense, as alluded to earlier by the fact that Saros had to make so many saves in a losing effort. They are missing key players like Dante Fabbro and Alexandre Carrier, who have played smart games but have been out of the lineup due to injury.

Must Read. Nashville Predators: Why Head Coach John Hynes Is Here To Stay. light

It is unfortunate that fans will have to scoreboard watch for the rest of the season and root for some teams they don’t necessarily like. Had the Predators gotten off to a better start and played all season as they have for the past month and a half, they would have already clinched a playoff spot.

The bad news is there is a real possibility that the Predators don’t make the playoffs which will be disappointing because of their epic run to close out the season.

The good news is it appears that Head Coach John Hynes has finally gotten his team to gel and made them a tough team to play against. With a few roster adjustments and an entire training camp, the Predators will have much to look forward to once the puck drops next Fall.