The All Star Break is giving the Nashville Predators players some much-needed downtime before the final push begins. There are still plenty of things to figure out, like if the Predators are buyers or sellers, or if they can catch the Blues or Kings in the wild card race.
The final 31 games will settle a lot of uncertainty, and also possibly set some career highs amongst a handful of Predators players.
Here's the rundown of who is going to, who probably will, and who has a chance at setting career marks.
Preds Players Who are Already Setting NHL Career Highs
Luke Evangelista - He's already done it so he's leading off the list. Evangelista notched an impressive 15 points (7 goals 8 assists) in 24 games last season. This year he's managed 22 points (9 goals and 13 assists) in 50 games. He'll continue to get opportunties thanks to his abilities and it is clear he has the potential for even more.
Cole Smith - Here's your guarentee. He's already tied his career high in points. He set the mark last season with 17 points in 69 games with the Predators. Now he has a new two-year contract from Barry Trotz that was signed.
This year in just 50 games Smith has equalled the mark. The next point is the high watermark for Smith, and he'll probably tack on a few more as well. He's already earned the prize of a two-year contract extension as well.
Michael McCarron - This season McCarron has been getting more ice time and has been taking more shots on the net. It's resulted in 12 points (7 goals 5 asissts) which is just two off of his career mark. He's already tied his career high in goals, and he's pretty well entrenched in the Preds lineup. If he stays pretty regular, the two points he needs will come sooner rather than later.
Kiefer Sherwood - Sherwood is in the same boat as McCarron. His usage is up, so his shots are up, and he's probably going to get the two points he needs for his career high. He's played with more energy and jump than his 11 points (5 goals 6 assists) show on the page. Barring injury or replacement, he'll get his points.
Jeremy Lauzon - He's played well so far this season, and it has resulted in an increase in his time on ice. He's been throwing pucks at the net, and using his skating to jump into plays. His offensive abilities are more obvious this year than last, and he's only four points off of last year's career mark. So expect to see Lauzon's 8 points (5 goals 3 assists) increase. The goals really help a player like him. It is a career-high in that category already. He's a few second assists away from going on an offensive tear.
Colton Sissons - Sis has been close to setting a new mark before. This year it is hard to imagine him not. Sitting at 25 points (13 goals 12 assists) with 31 games to go seems like a great spot for him. He's getting powerplay time, he's scoring shorthanded, and of course he's contributing at even strength. He's also shooting with reckless abandon. It seems like Sissons is finally getting luck to break for him, and his hard work is being rewarded.
They've Got A Shot But Need To Get Hot
Philip Tomasino - Tomasino had a slow start to the year, but is starting to pick up his scoring pace and chip in on the power play. Right now he's got 20 points (7 goals 13 assists) and needs 12 more to match his career high from his rookie year. Now given that he's got 31 games to do this, we should be sneaky confident in Tomasino to get this done.
Alexander Carrier - This is going to be a more difficult task considering he's a defenseman, but Carrier has an offensive lull to break out of. He isn't shooting much compared to previous years, and his ice time has been fluctuating rapidly. His 14 points (4 goals 10 assists) include a career high in goals, but hasn't been able to replicate his success assists-wise. A couple of things could break and Carrier could be well on his way to matching his 30-point career high, but he needs that 14 to come quickly.
Thomas Novak - Novak has all the skill in the world, but there was no way he was going to keep up with last year's 18.3 shooting percentage. Now he will play more games this season and has 31 chances to make up the 20 points he needs. Currently, he's got 23 points (8 goals 15 assists) but it is clear he could be producing more. Maybe that means taking better shots (he's almost matched last season's total but he's much less accurate) or looking to distribute more, but Novak is due for a hot streak and some changed luck. He's too good not to have it happen.
Filip Forsberg - Fil the Thrill (apologies to Phil Kessel but this is ours now) has been on a point-per-game pace all season. He's scored in all but 17 games this season, and has only been held scoreless in back-to-back nights twice.
To counter that he has 14 games in which he's scored 2 or more points. His 51 points (24 goals 27 assists) have him just outside the league's top 20 and there is little doubt he'll keep producing. His career high is 84 points. All he has to do is keep pace, with a few multipoint efforts for good measure. This is a race that will come down to the wire. If the Predators find themselves in a playoff push, it'll be because Forsberg is scoring like crazy.
Lets hope these Preds keep pushing their scoring limits, and leads the Predators to a playoff spot.