The Nashville Predators‘ playoff aspirations are mostly out of their control. That is to say that they need the teams ahead of them in the standings to lose almost as much as they need to win. However, they still have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of their own fate.
One of those comes this afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets sit above the Predators by only two points, but have a game in hand. A win would put them two points behind the Dallas Stars, pending the result of their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The long road to the postseason started very rocky for the Predators on Thursday, against the very Lightning they are hoping beat the Stars. Martin St. Louis pierced Carter Hutton for two goals in the first period, and Nashville couldn’t find their legs for the first half of the game. Then, like someone flipped a switch, the Predators scored two power play goals within a minute of each other and sustained pressure to cruise to an easy win.
That’s the type of play the team is going to need have for their remaining 22 games, and especially in this one. The Jets are looking to prove that the mini-slump they had before the Olympic break isn’t anything to worry about. New head coach Paul Maurice steered his team back into the playoff hunt despite the fact they were sitting near the bottom of the standings.
It’s possible that Winnipeg is regressing back to their true talent level, but that doesn’t mean they are going to roll over and go into the offseason lightly. The Predators don’t need to run the table on games the rest of the season (though it wouldn’t hurt), but it’s absolutely critical they win the games against the teams they are chasing in the standings.