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Nashville Predators @ Edmonton Oilers Preview: Crude Oil

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The Preds look for their third win in a row on their Western Canada excursion.

2020 NHL All-Star Skills Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

For all the talk about the Nashville Predators’ playoff hopes fading, the team switching into “sell mode” at the deadline, and overall dismay and despair in Smashville...

Standings as of Friday, February 7. Courtesy: ESPN.com

Yes. The Predators one point out of a wild card spot. Sure, they’re still in the outside looking in. But they have five wins in their past seven games, and at least two games in hand on the two teams ahead of them (both of whom are currently on cold streaks.)

Does this mean the Predators are starting to turn a corner? Not sure. Does this mean the season is suddenly saved? We’ll see.

What we CAN say, though, is that the Preds are still very much in the mix, and the Twitter talk about “tearing the team down and starting over” is premature. There have been plenty of positive signs popping up around Smashville over the past couple of weeks. Now it’s time to see if those “signs” evolve into full-blown momentum.

There’s a lot of hockey left to be played, and every game from here on out is going to tilt more towards the “must-win” category.

Buckle up, folks. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Tale of the Tape

Courtesy of Jason Paul/WaveIntel.org

Courtesy: Jason Paul / waveintel.org

Trade ME, Will Ya?

Apparently, all it takes to whip a player into a hot streak is to bring their name up in trade rumors.

Two Preds who have frequently been at the center of trade talk in recent weeks are starting to find their footing. Mikael Granlund’s snipe in the second period in Calgary turned out to be his second straight game-winning goal on the current road trip. He’s found the back of the net in four of his past six games, and has the most goals of any Pred since the start of the new year.

Meanwhile, Kyle Turris is taking advantage of his increased responsibility under new coach John Hynes. Turris has six points (1 G, 5 A) in his past seven games, including a two-point night Thursday against the Flames. Not only is he starting to find his scoring touch, he has — somewhat surprisingly — become a valuable asset on the penalty kill as well.

Combined with the output the Preds are still getting from Filip Forsberg (six points in six games) and potential Norris candidate Roman Josi (on pace for 82 points this season), the team’s “big guns” are finally starting to carry the load, and at the right time.

McDavid and Draisaitl Carry the Load

Who would have thought that having a once-in-a-generation talent could turn a bad team into a playoff contender?

It’s no secret that Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are doing most of the heavy lifting for the Oilers this season. The pair are 1-2 in the NHL’s scoring race (Draisaitl has 83 points, McDavid has 80.) They’re also the main cogs in the league’s best power play unit (28.8%.), and of course, they’re also 1-2 in power play points (McDavid leads that category, 36 points to Draisaitl’s 34.)

Speaking of special teams, Edmonton also has one of the league’s best penalty-killing units; currently sixth in the league at 82.9%. That’s a somewhat surprising stat considering A.) the Oilers’ struggle defensively at 5v5 and B.) their goaltending this season hasn’t exactly been stellar. Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen have a combined save percentage below 90%.

Depth continues to be a concern past McDavid and Draisaitl, and some key parts of the supporting cast — including our man James Neal and noted punching enthusiast Zack Kassian — find themselves in a slump. One exception has been Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The former #1 pick has 17 points (7 G, 10 A) since New Year’s. Defender Oscar Klefbom has also added some scoring touch from the blue line, and with 30 points this year, should top his career scoring high.

Tonight’s Song to Get You HYPEDDDD.

I’ve got nothing good for the Oilers, so here’s something from Edmonton-area native, and current Nashvillian, Brett Kissel.

How to Watch

  • Puck Drop: 6:00 PM CST
  • TV: Fox Sports Tennessee
  • Radio: 102.5 The Game