For the battle tested Nashville Predators, they’ve been playing must-win hockey for weeks now. Everyone has been waiting for them to finally fade out, but they just keep finding ways to remain in the hunt.
The schedule couldn’t have lined up any better if you scripted it out. The Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets will square off in what is going to feel almost like a play-in game. The Jets are in an obvious stronger position as we sit pregame, but a regulation loss to the Predators will make things very unnerving if you’re a Jets fan, if you’re not already feeling the heat:
The playoff odds have been hovering below 10 percent and near one percent for weeks now, but some unexpected wins over the likes of the Bruins, Golden Knights and Hurricanes have put tonight’s game in Winnipeg in the NHL spotlight.
The season series between the Predators and Jets has been close over the three games, with each matchup being decided by a single goal and two of them in overtime.
The Jets were able to beat the Predators 3-2 in overtime less than a month ago in a game where Connor Hellebuyck had to face just 20 shots from the Predators, while Juuse Saros had to make 31 saves on 34 shots faced.
Saros has gradually worked his way back into the Vezina Trophy conversation, and if he pushes the Predators into the playoffs with a couple other gems then it will be hard to ignore.
Roman Josi has been getting closer and closer to possibly returning, but the current projected lineup has Josi out along with no other returning players from injury.
With a regulation win over the Jets and a regulation by the Calgary Flames against the Vancouver Canucks, the Predators can find themselves in a wildcard spot for the first time since early December. An incredible accomplishment after selling at the trade deadline four key players and dealing with injuries to Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, Juuso Parssinen, Alexandre Carrier Matt Duchene and Roman Josi.
Players to Watch
The goalie matchup between Saros and Hellebuyck is always a treat. We’re probably in store for another grind-it-out type of game where three goals might very well be enough to win.
Tommy Novak has become the Predators most reliable offensive producer. Although he was held off the scoresheet in the win over Carolina, Novak still has a four-point and three-point game over the last week and is fourth on the team in points with 41.
Cody Glass’ development as the Predators’ top line center has been massive in keeping this team alive in the playoff race. He’s up to 33 points on the season which is more than half of his career total.
For the Jets, they obviously have more veterans to work with and have Nino Niederreiter, who was traded by the Predators at the deadline. He has 10 points in 18 games with the Jets since the trade.
We all remember the heartbreak from the 2018 playoffs when the Jets eliminated the Predators in the 2nd round. There are still some key veterans for the Jets who were in that series, including Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.
The season is on the line for the Nashville Predators as part of a historic night in the NHL that will feature every team in action. A total of 16 games and wildcard races in both conferences being impacted.