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Nashville Predators @ Winnipeg Jets: The Finish Laine

No, I have not been waiting to use that title for the last 6 months.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Predators head up to Winnipeg to take on the Jets in their final regular season game of the year.

With the playoffs clinched, all that’s left to worry about is seeding. With all signs pointing to a first round match-up with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Preds are probably just hoping to play decent hockey and escape with no injuries.

That being said, this should be a fun game. The Jets can put up some goals and the Preds just put up seven on the Stars.

The Winnipeg Jets

I really want Patrik Laine to win the Calder.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Despite this season’s Calder race being probably the closest race in years, it looks like Auston Matthews is going to beat Laine to the punch. Matthews will probably finish with more points, more goals, and his team is probably going to make the playoffs. That should be enough for Matthews to win it.

But that doesn’t mean that Laine didn’t have a phenomenal season. And it doesn’t mean that Laine won’t have an incredible career. He has and he will.

Laine is definitely the most talented young shooter in the game. In a few years, when Alex Ovechkin has either regressed beyond recognition or retired from the league, Laine will graduate to being the most feared shooter in the game. His release is so lightning quick and so laser accurate, that no one in the league (save for Ovechkin) is even close.

Laine drills all four accuracy targets in only 8.4 seconds during a skills competition in December.

Laine is shooting 18.0% in all situations this season. That’s the 9th highest shooting percentage by any rookie in NHL history with at least 200 shots. He’s 9th on a list behind players like Mario Lemieux, Teemu Selanne, and Wayne Gretzky.

Alex Ovechkin, by the way, is 48th on that list. Ovi shot 12.2% back in 2005-06 when he won the Calder. He scored 52 goals, but it took 425 shots for him to get there.

(Also, the 2005-06 season was wacky-bananas-crazy when it comes to scoring, but that’s another debate.)

Laine has 36 goals on exactly 200 shots. By comparison, Matthews has 39 goals on 272 shots—nearly 40% more shots than Laine, but only 10% more goals. Laine also has nine power play goals to Matthews’ eight, but that might be splitting hairs.

Rinne had absolutely no chance at this. An impossible shot to stop.

Like I said before, Matthews is going to win the Calder. He probably won the damn thing when he was drafted by the Maple Leafs, but now that the Leafs are probably making the playoffs and Matthews leads them in scoring, it’s all but his.

But I’d still like Laine to win it. I’m a big fan.

The Nashville Predators

In an otherwise meaningless hockey game, here’s what’s at stake in this game for the Preds:

  • A Preds win combined with a Flames loss against the Sharks means the Preds clinch the 7th seed and head to the Pacific side of the bracket. There they would likely play Anaheim in the first round, though Edmonton could still technically win the Pacific.
  • A Preds win combined with the Blues losing both of their final two games in regulation would mean the Preds would jump to the 3rd seed and play Minnesota in the 1st round. There is a 2.8% chance of that happening.
  • Both Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson have 31 goals on the year. If one of them gets a hat trick, they would break the franchise single season goal scoring record. If both of them get hat tricks, we would all lose our minds.
  • If Forsberg gets two points, he would finish with 60 points. This would give the Preds three 60 point players in a single season, which would be highest amount for any Preds team since they had four 60 point players back in 2006-07.
  • Ryan Johansen needs one assist to have the most assists in a season during the Laviolette era (47, set by Mike Ribeiro in 2014-15).
  • Ryan Johansen needs eight assists to break the franchise single season assist record (54, set by Paul Kariya in 2005-06). He can do it!
  • Calle Jarnkrok needs one goal to tie his personal single season record (16, set last year) and two goals to break it.
  • Filip Forsberg needs two goals to tie his personal single season record (33, set last year) and three goals to break it.
  • Roman Josi, with only 18 penalty minutes, has the fewest PIMs of any Predator to play at least 1800 minutes in a season. As long as he doesn’t get 8 PIMs tonight, that record will stand.
  • Mattias Ekholm is one goal away from his 20th career goal.
  • Juuse Saros needs 13 saves to reach the 600 save mark in his career.
  • Pekka Rinne needs one win to reach the 270 win mark in his career.
  • Anthony Bitetto is still looking for his first goal of the year. As are Brad Hunt (as a Pred), P.A. Parenteau (as a Pred), and Miikka Salomaki.
  • A number of players are adding to their personal single season point records, including Arvidsson, Ryan Ellis, Austin Watson, and Colton Sissons.
  • Unless either Mike Fisher or Roman Josi get three power play goals, this will be the 7th time in franchise history that the team doesn’t have a double-digit power play scorer.
  • P.K. Subban is five goals away from tying his personal single season record (15, set in 2014-15). He can do it!

Reasons to Watch

  • If everything that I listed above happens in this game, the score will be like 24-0, so you’ll want to watch that.
  • This is the last Predators game you’ll be able to watch without gnawing all your fingernails off. Enjoy a reasonably low-stakes game for one final night.

The Important Details

6:00 PM puck drop on FS-TN and 102.5 The Game