The Week Ahead for the Nashville Predators: Go West, Young Men

A 2-2-0 record in the week gone by has the Nashville Predators cruising along around the .500 mark. In the NHL that's actually worse than "average", which is more like .550 thanks to the Loser Point, so don't get too excited about those playoff hopes. This time around, they'll start the week at home before heading out west for a road trip.

Monday vs Dallas Stars

The Predators are 1-1 against their new division rivals so far this season, but may be catching the Stars at the right time, as Dallas has dropped 8 of their last 9 games. Nashville could have received a further break if Jamie Benn had received a suspension for this hit on Minnesota's Matt Cooke, but NHL has decided not to take action (personally I'm OK with that, it was more of a defensive move than anything else).

Will the Stars stay one step ahead of the Preds in the standings?

Thursday @ Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks are a fascinating team these days - after trying to rough things up against Los Angeles and Anaheim recently (losing both times), the Flames came into their house Saturday night and got right to business, initiating a line brawl off the opening faceoff:

After years of being such a dominant regular season team, the Canucks are battling several teams for one of the Western Conference's wild card spots They've traditionally had Nashville's number, however, as their points percentage (.640) against the Preds is their best against any opponent they've played at least 50 times.

Friday @ Calgary Flames

The Predators beat Calgary 4-2 last week, and hope to repeat the feat on the road this Friday. The Flames have only won 3 of their last 17 games, so they're ripe for the taking, especially if leading goal-scorer Mike Cammalleri continues to be sidelined with his concussion.

Calgary is pretty much playing for pride at this point (note the brawl above), so if the Predators can maintain some poise they should be able to take two points out of the Saddledome, right?

So what do you think? Do the Preds find some traction this week in front of new goaltender Devan Dubnyk, or do they continue to putter along near the bottom of the Central Division?

Central Standings

Chicago 50 31 8 11 73
St. Louis 47 32 10 5 69
Colorado 48 31 12 5 67
Minnesota 51 27 19 5 59
Dallas 48 21 19 8 50
Nashville 50 21 22 7 49
Winnipeg 50 22 23 5 49

(updated 1.19.2014 at 7:25 AM CST)

How many points will the Preds earn this week?