Those signs, namely, are this - in the past, the Predators would follow up long winning streaks with equally long losing streaks. After the Florida Panthers broke Nashville's six game win streak, the Predators didn't come back with a loss against Chicago. It took some time, but the end result was an inspirational 3-2 shootout victory in front of a sellout crowd.
Similarly, the Preds suffered a demoralizing loss to the Blackhawks the Sunday following, blowing a lead and getting embarrassed in general. They were then presented with a chance against Phoenix to right these wrongs, which they did so in resounding fashion, demolishing the Coyotes.
Of course, I'm preaching to the choir - you know what happened just as well as I do. The point is that Nashville was given opportunities to reverse, as it were, a poor performance, and they did so twice. It may be the leadership of Shea Weber, the resurgence of J.P. Dumont, or the high energy of Chris Mueller and Matt Halischuk, but whatever it is, its a welcome change.
Tonight's opponent, the Colorado Avalanche, are an interesting study. They weren't expected to make the playoffs last year, but did so anyway behind the stellar goaltending of Craig Anderson. This is the first time the Predators will face them this year, and I believe Colorado to be an improved team from last season, thanks to the growth of Matt Duchene and others.
One thing to keep an eye on tonight in particular is the Avs' team speed. On defense, John Michael-Liles, Matt Hunwick, and Kyle Cumiskey are fantastic skaters, while Duchene and Paul Stastny have the ability to cut through a defense at will.
I mention this because without Francis Bouillon, Nashville's bottom two defensive pairs are susceptible to getting burned by fast players. Shane O`Brien and Cody Franson are, uh, not quick - and not on the same pairing at this time. Alexander Sulzer and Kevin Klein need to be prepared to compensate for their partner's mistakes.
Avs coach Joe Sacco appears to have the same book on the Predators as the rest of the league, disregarding their improved offense:
"They're a very good defensive team, with good goaltending. It's going to be a real important game for us, but so is every game pretty much in this conference."
What, no mention of J.P. Dumont?