The Nashville Predators are not as bad as some people thought they would be, but they are also not as good as we now seem to think they are.
Simply put, the Preds will not continue this nice start unless they can take points away from Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles and the other Western Conference favorites. The level of play needed to beat the Blackhawks, Blues, or Kings in regulation is not even close to the level of play needed to gain one measly point against the Flames or to scrape together a Coyotes shootout win. Could we make the playoffs playing the current level of October hockey? Probably. Would the season's conclusion be any different than 2012, 2011, 2010 or any of the other sooner-than-it-should-have-been early exits from the playoffs? No.
It starts tonight vs. the Chicago Blackhawks. At least we hope it will.
The Chicago Blackhawks
What did the Blackhawks do since last Saturday's win? Dominate the Philadelphia Flyers at home 4-0 on Tuesday night, while we were struggling with Arizona. This team is good... really, really good. Like, better than the Predators good. For example, in their win vs. the Flyers, Patrick Kane had two power play goals... the Preds have two power play goals in 6 games. More on that later.
The Blackhawks are in the top 10 in the NHL in both goals allowed and goals scored. They roll 4 forward lines that wear out defenses with speed, strength, and skill. Their defense is stout and can make plays at both ends of the ice. Oh, look, here is some good news: Corey Crawford will not be making the road trip to Nashville due to "nagging injuries" Wait... backup goalkeeper Antti Raanta had 32 saves and earned a shutout vs. the Flyers. So much for an auspicious beginning.
The Blackhawks will come into our house Thursday night as confident, Western Conference favorites that have no reason to think they can't leave with 2 points in hand. And the Predators? Well, they have some work to do...
The Nashville Predators
Ok, guys, what did you do with the power play? Who has it and where did you put it? This isn't funny, guys.
Oh, you say you don't have it? Well, where is it? We need to find it. Who had it last?
Barry had it last? Well, where's Barry? Someone get Barry on the phone.
Ok, Barry says he doesn't have it... he says he lost it at some point, but then hung up saying he had to find a new sub shop in D.C.
Well, it can't have just walked off by itself. I can't seem to find it anywhere. Barry had it last, but... David, have you seen it? Do you have it?
Yes, David, yes, I KNOW you helped get the All-Star game here. I've heard, trust me, but WE ARE LOOKING FOR THE POWER PLAY, HAVE YOU SEEN TH-- oh, nevermind.
Hey... new guy... Peter, right? Hey, have you seen the power play?
Yes, Peter, the power play. I know you're new around here, but maybe you can help... Have you seen it? Can you help us look for it? I don't care if you weren't the one who lost it, Peter, you should still help us find it.
I mean, Peter, we are like 2 for 21 on power plays this year, which is pretty bad. We need to find it. And remember when you got here, you said you would help us find stuff, like offense, and right now we need to find the power play. So, can you help?
Ok, well just let me know if you see it... Thanks.
Reasons to Watch
Yet again, we need to see if the Predators can play a full 60 minute game and come away with a win. I suppose it would be nice if the power play scored, but at this point I would just like for them to not give up goals to the Blackhawks.
Also, you should want to watch another fake-shot drop pass like the one Mike Ribeiro laid down on Tuesday night. Gooooodddness-sakes that was nice.
Wouldn't It Be Funny If
We successfully kept the red out of Bridgestone Arena?
Remember: the Nashville Predators hashtag committee wants you to #KeepTheRedOut so please don't wear your Christmas sweaters in October.
Puck drop at 7 p.m. CST, FS-TN and 102.5 have you covered for sights and sounds.