Nashville Predators: It’s Time To Clinch The Playoffs

Nashville Predators center Calle Jarnkrok (19) celebrates after a goal during the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators center Calle Jarnkrok (19) celebrates after a goal during the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators are coming off an untimely result against the Columbus Blue Jackets that cost them an opportunity to bring a close to the Central Division “race.” Here’s looking at you, Dallas, with your 14 overtime losses.

No matter the result from Wednesday, it is time for the Predators to turn the page and truly earn their opportunity to punch their ticket into the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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In this pandemic shortened season, the Predators have matched up against seven other opponents and managed to find a way to solve six and dominate a couple of them.

How fitting that for the final two games of the season, the Predators have an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot against the freshly minted Central Division champion Carolina Hurricanes, otherwise known as “Dad” to the Predators.

You could not have scripted this season any better. Well, maybe you could have, but if the Predators can win and get in, who cares how it was scripted.

Bridgestone Arena will be the epicenter of the hockey universe tonight, with the final playoff spot yet to be locked up in a division that has provided intriguing, entertaining, blue-collar hockey from wire to wire.

I can wholeheartedly say that I will miss this crop of opponents and the diversity they have brought to this division.

Okay, I am lying. For that matter, Tampa, Carolina, and Florida can all kick rocks back to their respective divisions next season. I hope to only see them in a future Stanley Cup final (knocks on the nearest tree trunk I can find).

However, the task at hand is the Hurricanes in a season-ending two-game set that gives the Predators a chance to exercise their demons and crush the Canes!

It’s time to tape the sticks, engage in all superstitions, and get the rally buckets on to finally beat those bunch of jerks from Raleigh, NC!

Let’s break down how it’s going to look on the final Saturday night in Smashville of the 2020-21 regular season!

Canes Have Clinched…YAY

Predators players and fans alike sat idly by watching Dallas dismantle Tampa Bay last night in a crucial matchup that also saw a clinching scenario for the Predators if Tampa could have beaten the Stars in regulation.

It’s now time for Predators fans to rejoice and echo the sentiments Stars fans shot our way after a 7-2 thrashing of the Lightning earlier this year at the hands of Nashville. MCELHINNEY WAS IN NET!

From what I know of Curtis McElhinney, by all accounts, he seems like a good guy who has carved out a nice career as an NHL backup. But that’s not the netminder anyone cheering for the gold guys wanted to see in the crease for the Lightning last night with so much at stake.

Having said that, the Lightning essentially conceded the division crown to the Hurricanes, which could see some roster juggling for Carolina tonight that could be advantageous for the Predators.

That advantage won’t be in the crease as Carolina boasts a trio of capable netminders that the Predators have struggled against at various points in the season.

A couple of notable Hurricanes that may rest tonight could prove helpful in an opportunity to help get a win against the division champs. Lineups have yet to be released at the time of writing, but that will be something to keep an eye on as teams like the Hurricanes prepare themselves for the real season set to kick off in the next couple of weeks!

109. Bally Sports South. 7 PM CDT. 36-10-8. Saturday, May 8. 29-23-2. 151.

Nashville Predators Control Their Destiny

As great as it would have been to see the Predators get that nice little “x” beside their logo across standings boards league-wide, something just would not have felt right about it. Nobody likes to see their team “back into” a playoff spot.

No, it is time for the Predators to take care of business against a team that has given them fits all year with the greatest prize of their season on the other end of a win. Beat the Canes, and you’re in the playoffs. Simple as that.

The Predators have the opportunity to control their destiny. At this point, with everything this team has gone through, put themselves through, and ultimately given themselves the opportunity to do in this roller coaster of a season, the time is now.

See red, beat red. It really is as simple as that.

Keys, Cliches, And Catalysts

As this preview should be about who the starters are in net (hopefully we see Pekka Rinne in the final game if the Predators take care of business tonight), who’s coming off an injury, who will or won’t suit up tonight, it can’t be about that at this point of the season.

The goal is quite simple in this beautiful, nuanced, electric game we call hockey. The Predators have to score more goals than their opponent in the sixty minutes that they have to do so.

This is the goal. Plain and simple. No fluff, no “gotta have a sustainable forecheck,” no “keep them to the outside,” no “get pucks in deep” (well, maybe that last one is important), but nevertheless.

This weekend is about finishing the job the Predators set out to do at the outset of this incredible, borderline miraculous turnaround. This weekend is about winning for Smashville, who continually endure, sacrifice, and always show up for their boys in gold.

Say it with me, fellow Predators fans, “CLINCH AGAINST THE CANES”!!!

The puck drops at 7:00 PM CDT with Bally Sports South televising the game.  Follow along with us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute game commentary.

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