This week is a bit of a murderers' row for the Predators as they host three games at Bridgestone Arena. Every team stepping foot on the ice has been playing some terrific hockey as of late, and Nashville is coming off a lackluster performance on the road this weekend.
The Preds have hardly stumbled at all this season. They've only lost two game in a row twice, and still haven't lost back-to-back games in regulations. A little adversity, or a few losses in a row, isn't a bad thing; remember how many points they have in the bank. But, let's be honest, winning is way more fun than losing.
Should the team add two or three wins to the ledger, this conversation dissipates. If they don't... well, let's just say from all the comments I fielded on Twitter on Sunday lead me to believe Tractor Supply Co. is sold out of pitchforks.
It may not be enough to vault them to a second-straight playoff appearance, but the Avs are starting to hit their stride. They have four wins in their last five games, and have scored 19 goals in that span. When earlier in the season not a single player could buy one, they are starting to come in bunches now. To give you an idea, Nathan MacKinnon scored a quarter of his season total on Sunday against the Lightning. His hat trick was the first of his career, and he became the second youngest in franchise history to record one.
A novel concept, scoring goals. Usually, the 24th rated offense pots one or two then prays to Jebus that Semyon Varlamov is having a good night. Patrick Roy's strategy has really gone a long way... like from the top of the division TO THE BOTTOM! Oh, snap.
These teams last met twice in the same week, right in the middle of Injured Pekka, and the Avalanche took three of the four points available. Nashville did its favorite thing by allowing the tying goal with about 30 seconds left in the first game, before being bailed out by Craig Smith in overtime. The following game saw Marek Mazanec get lit up three times in his only start of the season, while the Preds could only muster 23 shots on Varly. None of them went in.
Given the way the Avalanche are playing right now, the Preds are going to have to shake off whatever malaise followed them out east. Though Colorado's playoff chances are dim, they are only six points behind the Wild for the final Wild Card spot. (Wild have a game in hand.) Six points in February is a mountain, but don't tell them that. This isn't a pushover game, despite the standings.
The Nashville Predators
Coming home with three of a possible six points is a minor miracle, given how the Predators played this weekend. Though the entire trip looks worse as a whole given how awful, terrible and bad their game was against Philadelphia. The loss in New York wasn't great, but they were outmatched by another great team. It happens. The win in Buffalo should have been by three or four goals were it not for Michal Neuvirth materializing a point out of thin air with his stellar play.
So yeah, that loss in Philly stunk, and Nashville's play looked a little uninspired the past three games. But it's hard to get worked up over games in late February, especially when the Predators have roughly a 100% chance of making the playoffs.
"But Jawn," you say. "I don't give no spit about making the playoffs. I care about succeeding in the playoffs." That's a fair point, you well-articulated specimen of human intellect, you. Hopefully this homestand will help you step back from that ledge a bit.
Colorado will be a good matchup for the Predators get their heads back in the game, without falling in a trap of playing down to their opponents. They're clicking at just the right time. Minnesota and Detroit are great teams, and the Wild are the hottest team in the NHL right now. Basically, a successful string of games in the toughest building in the league should do wonders for recharging your batteries.
And hey, if they poop the bed, at least they are doing it in late February rather than late April.
Reasons to Watch
- Really, it's for the inevitable moment when Patrick Roy pulls his goaltender with 15 minutes left in the second period.
- Lavy's tie game was on point this weekend. Can it continue?
- The Preds had a "meh" couple of games and people were acting like the team was about to get eliminated from life. Isn't it great to actually have expectations for once? Go ahead. Spoil yourself.
- It's also time for your monthly, "Jarome Iginla still plays hockey?!" moment.
Sights and Sounds
We're set to go at 7 p.m., and the TV and radio channels should be notched into your dial by now. See you at the game.