Recently the Nashville Predators have managed to climb past Winnipeg and Dallas into 5th place in the Central Division, with Minnesota cruising along in 4th, six points ahead. Can the Preds continue to make headway while continuing to work through serious injury issues? Let's take a look at this week's opponents...
Tuesday vs Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks are still adapting to life under new head coach John Tortorella, and a recent 3-5-3 stretch has them limping along, falling behind the leaders of a very competitive Pacific Division. They'll visit Bridgestone Arena Tuesday in the finale of a four-game road trip, so hopefully they'll be dreaming of getting on the plane quickly and getting home rather than putting forth an all-out effort against the Preds.
As well as the shorthanded defense corps did against Philadelphia Saturday night, I can't help but break out in sweats over what the Sedin twins might do to Nashville's baby blueline. As usual, Henrik the Playmaker is leading the way for Vancouver:
|2013 - Henrik Sedin||28||7||20||27||5||22||3||0||1||53||13.2|
Thursday vs Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes are toiling away with an unimpressive 10-12-5 record, but thanks to the other disappointing teams in the Metropolitan Division, they're only 3 points out of 3rd place, and a playoff spot (the second wild card is actually 5 points ahead of them). The Canes are in the middle of a 2-5-1 slide which has come while the team has missed one of its most dangerous offensive weapons in Alexander Semin, who is out of the lineup with a concussion.
In Semin's absence, more of Carolina's offensive burden falls on the steady shoulders of Eric Staal:
|2013 - Eric Staal||26||6||12||18||-11||24||1||1||0||78||7.7|
That burden is far too great to be carried on one guy's shoulders, however, as Carolina ranks 29th in scoring this season. If there's one team this week that the Predators should be able to take advantage of, the Hurricanes are it.
Saturday @ Washington Capitals
The 14-11-2 Washington Capitals are a team loaded with interesting angles for us to follow. Seeing our old pal Joel Ward (who is on pace for career-best offensive numbers) is always a treat, but it's questionable whether former Predator Martin Erat will still be with the Caps by the end of the week, given his recent move to take his trade demands public. One of the league's best stories is Alexander Ovechkin's bid to be the first player in 20 years to pot 70 goals in a season, but let's be honest - when the Capitals and the Predators meet, many Nashville fans will wonder just how this team might look if they had claimed Mikhail Grabovski off the waiver wire last summer.
|2013 - Mikhail Grabovski||27||8||14||22||+2||8||2||0||0||37||21.6|
So when you look at this trio of games, what do you make of the Preds' chances?
- Sunday's Dump & Chase: We Got a Point Last Night!
- Philadelphia Flyers 3, Nashville Predators 2: Epic Power Play Fail Costs Preds in Shootout Loss
- Shea Weber Leaves Game Against Edmonton After Taking a Puck to the Face
- Jon Garcia on The Lowdown with Lowetide
- Saturday's Dump & Chase: The Flyers Come to Town!