Nashville Predators: Whirlwind Regular Season Ends Tonight

Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

With their win on Saturday night, the Nashville Predators punched their ticket to the 2020-21 Stanley Cup Playoffs, clinching the final spot in the Central Division. Tonight they play their last game of this shortened season against the division champion Carolina Hurricanes.

With one final game left to play tonight, Nashville’s record sits at 30-23-2. It has been an epic turnaround from a team that was on the brink of a full-blown rebuild and possible management/coaching changes.

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A playoff spot is the last thing that anyone expected from this team back in March. The Predators were sinking and barely able to keep their heads above water. What a difference two months has made.

The Predators faced and overcame a massive hurdle in the victory against Carolina. The best they had managed in their five previous meetings was one point from an overtime loss.

In a very decisive manner, the Predators took care of business, secured the two points needed to clinch the playoff spot, and proved that they belong in the playoffs.

With this strange season finally coming to a close, the Predators can’t take too long to reflect on their accomplishment. The playoffs are up next, and everyone knows how tough that can be.

Rest Or Send A Statement

Now that the playoff spots for the Predators and the Hurricanes have been set, there is not much meaning to this final matchup of the regular season. Or is there?

The Predators struggled mightily against Carolina and have always been viewed as an easy target if they did make it to the playoffs, no matter the opponent. A statement win tonight could quiet the naysayers and prove that Nashville can hang with Carolina.

On the other hand, the Predators could use some rest. There are still several players out of the lineup and some in the lineup who may be banged up.

It would probably also be a good idea to give Juuse Saros a bit of a rest before the challenging task ahead of him once the playoffs start. He will need to be well-rested and ready to go.

Saros has started the last 13 games with excellent results. He has also started the previous 23 out of 26 games the Predators have played.

Saros will be counted on to continue his winning ways even with his limited playoff experience. He has been a critical factor in the turnaround for this team and could continue to add to his accomplishments with a good showing in the playoffs.

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The Return Of The G.O.A.T.

With Saros’ epic run in the past couple of months now in the books and a playoff spot clinched, we need to see Pekka Rinne in the net tonight.

While Saros continued to gain crucial experience for the past couple of months, the veteran Rinne cheered from the bench, accepting his role as the backup goaltender.

There is much speculation that Rinne will retire once this season is finally over. His contract is up at the end of this season, and no one but Rinne himself has the answer to what the future holds for him.

Rinne could possibly go to a Stanley Cup contender to get one last shot at being a champion, although that is probably not in his plans. He said himself that he wants to retire as a Nashville Predator, and rightfully so.

While we don’t know what Rinne’s plans are, we all hope to see him in a Predators uniform for one final season so that he can get the sendoff that he deserves.

The Real Test Begins For The Nashville Predators

While all teams want to win in any contest that they participate in, the Predators should start some of the taxi squad players and give the veterans a rest tonight. They have a very arduous task ahead once the playoffs start.

There is a reason why the Hurricanes are the division champions. They are a tough team, possibly the best in the NHL. Please make no mistake. They will be gunning for the Predators and will look be looking for the sweep.

The Predators need to come out of the gate in the playoffs with the same intensity that helped turn their season around and put other teams on notice. They proved that they belong even after their disastrous start to their season.

When all cylinders are firing, the Predators are a very tough team to play against. If they can’t consistently provide that intensity, an early playoff exit is in their future.

Tonight could either be a preview of this first-round matchup or a night that gives some players a much-needed break before the real work begins.

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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