We're down to the final week of the Nashville Predators' regular season, and with the lineup returning to full health, the focus is on setting the lines and D-pairings, and ensure that the team is firing on all cylinders for playoff time.
Take a look after the jump at this week's upcoming opponents...
Just two home games remaining in the regular season, take the OTF Discount and save!
Tuesday vs. Minnesota
Earlier this season the Wild were the talk of the NHL, leading the overall standings and defying most predictions. Injury and that dreaded malady, "regression to the mean", conspired to doom Minnesota to another season out of the playoffs. Currently sitting with the 4th-worst record in the league, the great hope for the Wild is in the Draft Lottery, in which the bottom five teams all have a shot at 1st overall.
One of the most critical players who has missed major time for Minnesota is their captain, who only recently returned from being out for a month with a shoulder injury:
#9 / Center / Minnesota Wild
Mar 12, 1983
|2011 - Mikko Koivu||51||12||28||40||+9||24||2||1||2||120||10.0|
Thursday vs. Dallas
The last game of the regular season features all sorts of goodies as part of Fan Appreciation Night at Bridgestone Arena, including a pre-game party on the plaza, the traditional "Shirts Off Their Backs", and oodles more.
Oh, and there's a game against a contender for the Pacific Division title, too, and a potential 3-vs-6 seed playoff opponent for the Predators. The Stars have won two of the three previous meetings between the two teams, so this does turn out to be the first-round matchup, Dallas is not a team to be taken lightly.
While Mike Ribeiro's slick moves draw lots of attention, it's the more quietly effective Loui Eriksson who leads the way as one of the top two-way wingers in the game:
#21 / Left Wing / Dallas Stars
Jul 17, 1985
|2011 - Loui Eriksson||79||26||44||70||+17||10||5||2||3||178||14.6|
Saturday at Colorado
The Preds put a bow on the regular season with a road game at Colorado, against an Avalanche team they've beaten three teams already this year. Currently in 10th place, the Avs will need a win Thursday vs. Columbus in order for Saturday's game to still hold any meaning.
Unless, that is, the Calder Trophy race is coming down to a hair-splitting race between Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Colorado's exciting rookie, Gabriel Landeskog:
#92 / Left Wing / Colorado Avalanche
Nov 23, 1992
|2011 - Gabriel Landeskog||80||22||29||51||+23||49||6||0||5||264||8.3|
So yes, we know that the Predators have their final position in the West on the line this week, but let's be honest, it's all prelude to the real fun which begins in another week or so...