With four games coming up this week, including three at Bridgestone Arena, is this the time where the Nashville Predators crawl back towards the playoff race, or fall out of reach?
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Sunday at Carolina Hurricanes
As previewed by Jon earlier today, the Preds get right back into action after losing in the shootout at Florida by taking on the 17-16-9 Carolina Hurricanes tonight. Despite the unimpressive overall record, the Canes are riding a 3-game winning streak into tonight's contest, and boast one of the league's more dynamic duos up front in center Eric Staal and winger Jeff Skinner (who earned his first career hat trick against the Preds back on December 5th), but there's concern in Carolina as to whether Staal will be able to go in this one, after leaving Saturday's game against the Islanders midway through.
Tuesday vs San Jose Sharks
Our old pals from Northern California return to Bridgestone Arena, where the Preds beat them 3-2 on December 14th. As usual, the Sharks are right near the top of the Pacific Division with a 26-10-6 record, and the aging combo of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are still leading the way.
One guy we will miss is Calder Trophy candidate Tomas Hertl, who recently underwent knee surgery and is on the shelf for a while.
Thursday vs Anaheim Ducks
Bruce Boudreau has brought his Flying Circus routine from the Washington Capitals to Anaheim and brought about impressive results, as the Ducks sport the 2nd-best record in the league (30-8-5) with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry piling up the numbers at a point-per-game pace. Winners of 12 out of their last 13 games, the Ducks are on track to repeat as Pacific Division champs and are looking to make a deep playoff run this time around, the one thing that Boudreau has yet to add to his resume.
Saturday vs Ottawa Senators
David Poile will get his chance to apologize to Bobby Ryan in person for the controversy surrounding his exclusion from the US Olympic hockey team, and the remarks from Brian Burke that got out into the open in Scott Burnside's report on ESPN.com. Will America's 2nd-leading goal scorer since the 2009-10 season be motivated to show Team USA's general manager that they made the wrong decision by leaving him out?
|2013 - Bobby Ryan||44||18||18||36||+9||16||6||0||2||115||15.7|
As for the rest of the Senators, they've taken a bit of a step backwards this season, currently standing 6th in the Atlantic Division with a 19-18-7 record, although they've rallied recently with a four-game winning streak.
So how will the Predators fare this week against this wide-ranging sampling of opponents? Vote in the poll, and sound off in the comments below!
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