The Nashville Predators are back home for their first game since a tornado battered Nashville early Tuesday morning. The Predators were in action the night before and had to be in Minnesota the following night to play the Wild. Fortunately, the Predators didn’t get caught up in the storm, though their focus was clearly not on hockey in Minnesota. The Predators had no pop on the road, as they suffered a 3-1 loss at the Xcel Energy Center.
This was 24 hours after the Predators were humiliated against the Oilers on home ice. They were dealt a 8-3 loss, with Pekka Rinne between the pipes for all 8 goals. He finished with a 0.742 save percentage after making 23 saves on 31 shots. Despite that lifeless performance, there was nothing in the tank the following night in Minnesota.
Nashville can’t afford too many more efforts like that. They’re in the midst of a playoff race, and not playing their best hockey recently. The Predators are losers in their last three games, and certainly don’t look like a that deserves to go to the playoffs. That said, an optimist can say that this is the last cold drought before the Predators get hot.
It’s going to have to happen if they want to be playing in April. They’re currently 2 points behind the Jets for the last wildcard in the Western Conference. That’s nothing to overcome, but keep in mind that the Predators have to deal with five other teams that are within 4 points. It’s not going to be an easy month for the Predators, but they’re within striking distance of the playoffs.
The Predators own a record of 32-26-8 heading into tonight, while the Dallas Stars counter with a mark of 37-21-8. The Stars are in a much better spot, as they’re third in the Central Division and hold a 6-point advantage on the Jets. The Jets are battling for a wildcard right now, with the Stars probably a bit too far out ahead to get to third, though there’s still time left to do that.
Dallas are coming off a tough 2-1 loss in overtime against the Oilers at home in Texas. They’re on a skid as well with three losses in their last three games. It wasn’t that long ago that the Stars caught the Blues and were right with them at the top of the division. As soon as that happened, the Blues kicked it up into high gear and the Stars fell back. Somebody is going to get off the snide tonight in Nashville. Head belo for our free Stars vs. Predators pick.
Dallas Stars vs. Nashville Predators Betting Odds:
Stars vs. Predators Prediction:
The Predators were expecting a lot more than having to fight for a wildcard to get into the playoffs this season. Losing P.K. Subban stung. He hasn’t had a good season in New Jersey, but he brought some life to the Predators and felt like he belonged in Nashville. They used some of the money they had leftover from Subban to sign Matt Duchene.
There hasn’t been anything wrong with the offence this season, but issues have come up defensively. Subban present would likely help. That said, at some point Pekka Rinne must flash the pads and show that he’s a Vezina winner. This has not been a pretty season for Rinne, as he’s struggled with a 3.17 GAA and 0.895 save percentage.
Rinne’s last appearance was the 8-goal performance against the Oilers. Juuse Saros was okay in Minnesota the following night, as he allowed 3 goals on 33 shots, but the Predators are going to need somebody to catch fire. Rinne will likely get a chance to redeem himself after a career-low for him on Monday night. He’s in desperate need of a solid outing after the effort he put forth versus the Oilers.
The Stars haven’t been a strong offensive team this season, so he does have a good opportunity to bounce back Thursday night. Dallas is 25th in the league with 2.67 goals scored per game. Their defence has been effective, including the tandem of Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin between the pipes.
However, not as effective on the road, as Bishop has a 2.95 GAA and 0.907 save percentage on the road as opposed to a 2.19 GAA and 0.93 save percentage at home. Likewise, Khudobin has seen a drop in production as a visiting netminder, having posted a 1.44 GAA and 0.943 save percentage at home compared to a 2.57 GAA and 0.925 save percentage on the road.
I think emotion will have a lot to do with the outcome Thursday night. Expect the Predators to come out with an edge in this one. After the disaster that took place on Tuesday morning in Nashville, it’s hard to see the Predators playing a flat game tonight. The fact that they’ve looked awful recently should give them some added motivation to play better as well. I’m with the Predators here.