Nashville Predators vs. Colorado Avalanche Preview: Preds aim to frustrate the playoff-bound Avs

While the Preds are settling in for a long summer, the Avs are getting ready for a much anticipated return to the playoffs.

There are only 10 games left for the Predators in this pretty disappointing season. There are plenty of questions we have once that happens. Who's to blame? What's next? Will any free agents help this summer? But as numerous as those questions are, there is still a little hockey left to be played.

Tonight, the Predators welcome the Avalanche to Nashville as a model of what to strive for when drafting, trading, and signing players. After toiling for a few seasons, Colorado boasts an impressive squad of players have been able to skate and hang with some of the best teams all season, to the surprise of almost everyone.

The Stats

Record 44-21-6 6th 31-31-10 23rd
GF/Game 3.00 6th 2.39 26th
GA/Game 2.69 14th 2.86 23rd
5-on-5 Close SF/60 28.7 20th 29.5 14th
5-on-5 Close SA/60 30.4 19th 27.1 4th
Fenwick Close 47.00 27th 50.50 14th
5-on-5 Close Save % .937 2nd .909 27th
5-on-4 GF/60 6.6 9th 6.3 12th
# of PP's/Gm 3.07 27th 3.03 28th
4-on-5 GA/60 6.0 14th 6.9 25th
# of PK's/Gm 3.07 6th 2.99 3rd

The Colorado Avalanche

The Avs are poised to make their first postseason appearance since 2010. It's been an amazing year for the team, as many (including myself) thought they wouldn't be this competitive for at least another year. Patrick Roy deserves the credit he is being given, and is a shoe in for the Jack Adams this year. But glancing up and down the roster, it's not hard to see why this team is performing the way they are.

Colorado has five players that have reached or exceeded the 20 goal plateau. All five of those players (Ryan O'Reilly, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny) are part of the core the Avalanche have built around, and should be around for a long, long  time. (Pending the outcome of Stastny and O'Reilly.) Jamie McGinn has a shot at becoming the sixth player on the team to reach that mark.

Since they've had four days to soak in a shutout loss to the Bruins, the team should be fired up and ready to go once puck drops at Bridgestone Arena tonight. The last two game against these Central division rivals have been high-scoring affairs. The way the Preds have been playing recently, you might want to hold onto your butts for this one.

The Nashville Predators

It's most likely the Seth Jones is going to be sitting this one out due to concussion-like symptoms. Jones was hit by Chicago's Andrew Shaw in the first period of Sunday's game, and didn't return after the intermission. There still hasn't been word on the severity of the injury, but concussions are always treated seriously, as well they should be. Hopefully the 19-year-old doesn't miss too much time and is back his old self before you know it.

So potentially Michael Del Zotto will be back in the lineup tonight, after a series of scratches and benches that have drawn the ire of Preds fans. There's only one explanation I can think of for this situation: instead of using Del Zotto's talent and offensive powers for good, he is afraid he might accidentally hurt his teammates or opposing players some how. So he hides him away from the rest of the world, a la Queen Elsa. That's gotta be it.

One final note: both Mike Fisher and Shea Weber are sitting at 18 goals with 10 games left. Both of them are going to hit the 20 goal mark. Book it.

Game time is at 7:00 p.m. CST. Get out of the snow and stay warm with us in the game thread tonight!

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