If it seems like the days just fly by as we rapidly approach the end of the NHL regular season, here's a quick recap of the last week in Preds-land:
- Monday night in Los Angeles, a late goal by Ryan Jones gave the Preds a 4-3 win; it was the rookie's first NHL Game Winning Goal.
- Tuesday saw the recall of Patrick Hornqvist from Milwaukee, as Wade Belak was sent home from the road trip and Jason Arnott & Radek Bonk continued to recover from injury.
- I opened the analytical toolbox to use Shot Quality to review the season-long offensive trend the team has gone through, to see whether or not they have enough goal-scoring punch to make the playoffs.
- Wednesday night in Anaheim, Joel Ward's late 3rd-period goal (his second of the night) got the Preds to overtime before they lost 4-3, ensuring a winning record on their West Coast road trip.
- Two Preds prospects in the Western Hockey League were named to the Western Conference All-Star Team.
- The Tennessean "broke" a story that appeared to portray the Predators as short-changing the city of Nashville $400,000 in ticket taxes. The lead attorney for the city in the lease negotiations later came out and said it was a misunderstanding, due to some language that was inadvertantly left out of the approved version of the document, and the mayor confirmed that the team is paying its obligations as intended. That hasn't stopped the newspaper from pursuing this mythical $400,000, saying that "the taxpayers of Davidson County may be poorer for it."
- Thursday night in San Jose, another gritty effort saw the Preds taking the Sharks to the shootout before losing, earning 6 out of 8 possible points on an arduous road trip. Pekka Rinne was outstanding in making 36 saves on 38 shots.
- According to a thoroughly unscientific poll, the team Preds fans most want to see not make the playoffs is the Minnesota Wild. No, Mr. Leipold, we won't forget the Great Salary Purge of 2007 around here for a long time...
- According to Pierre Lebrun on Hockey Night in Canada, Jason Arnott may be out of the lineup for quite a while longer, making this run to the playoffs all the more stressful.
- User smashville reminds us of a story that inspired the team down the stretch last year, that of Chase Donnell.
All in all, it was a very successful week for the team, earning 4 critical points in the standings, and now with most of the teams even in terms of Games Played, the Preds currently sit in a playoff spot (8th) with 77 points, ahead of Minnesota with 76 and St. Louis with 75. It's going to be a white-knuckle ride all the way to the finish, I fear!
So with all that said, let's give you the Three Stars of the Week...
#3: Ryan Suter notched 4 assists on the trip, taking his point-scoring streak to a team-best 8 games before seeing it end in San Jose.
#2: J.P. Dumont scored once and talled 4 assists, assuming a leadership role in the absence of Arnott.
#1: Joel Ward scored 4 goals and added an assist, taking 11 shots on goal through the three games.