It hasn't been pretty for the Nashville Predators as of late, and their wildcard hopes are quickly going down the drain while their offense has hit a roadblock.
The Predators spoiled a three-goal lead to the Ottaway Senators, one of the worst teams in the NHL, on Monday and now look to tonight as they host the Los Angeles Kings.
This is a huge opportunity for the Predators to get back into a wildcard spot as they enter the All Star break. The Predators are tied with the Kings and Blues at 54 points, but the Predators have played three more games than the Kings.
Rematch of Two Teams Tied in the Western Conference Wildcard Race
The Predators and Kings faced off just 13 days ago with a narrow 2-1 win going the way of the Predators. It was a goalie duel between Juuse Saros and David Rittich, and it's likely we'll see that same goalie matchup again tonight.
Saros made 33 saves in the win while Rittich was equally impressive only surrendering the two goals on 33 shots faced.
This is a matchup between two desperate wildcard teams in similar situations. They're both trending in the wrong direction with the Predators going 4-5-1 over their last 10 whie the Kings have gone 2-5-3 over their last 10 games.
On the injury front, the Predators are dealing with an undisclosed injury for Alexandre Carrier and he is considered a gametime decision against the Kings. It looks like there's a good chance we'll see Tyson Barrie draw back into the starting lineup for just his second game since December 23.
The Kings also have some gametime decisions on the injury front with Quinton Byfield missing consecutive games due to illness, but is expected to be back in action against Nashville. Fourth line center Trevor Lewis is also a gametime decision, per Daily Faceoff.
Preds Top Line has been Quiet as of Late
The most alarming issue for the Predators entering this final game before the All Star break is the recent offensive struggles for the top line. Filip Forsberg has just one goal in his last eight games, Ryan O'Reilly has been held pointless in six of his last eight games, and Gustav Nyquist is on a five-game goal drought.
Safe to say the top line has to get cooking tonight against the Kings. Nyquist and O'Reilly did score clutch goals against the Kings in the January 18th matchup.
The Kings have fallen back to 16th in the NHL in goals per game while the Predators sit in 18th. Two teams that have plenty of offensive talent but have underperformed as of late.
No matter how the Predators perform over the next 14 games before the trade deadline on March 8, General Manager Barry Trotz has to be thinking very seriously about being a major seller and unloading some 2024 free agent contracts.
A loss tonight to the Kings will give Trotz a lot to chew on over the All Star break with the Predators being out of a playoff spot and heading in the wrong direction.