Predators Clicking on All Cylinders

Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

For the first half of the season, it looked like the Nashville Predators were not going to make the Stanley Cup playoffs.

They were struggling to put the puck in the net, were not getting timely saves, and appeared to be out of sync. Simply put, they were very un-Predator like.

Fast forward to now (Monday, March 25) and what happened a few months ago seems like a very distant memory. Some might say it looks like a completely different season.

As of this writing (Monday, March 25), the Predators hold the first wild card spot in the Western Conference, are fourth in the Central Division, are sixth in the Western Conference, and 11th in the league with a record of 42-25-4 for 88 points. While these facts are all impressive considering how they started the season, what they have been doing since February 17th is even more impressive.

Since that date, the Predators have gone 15-0-2 during this span. This means that they are on a 17-game point streak while also looking like a force to be reckoned with.

For starters, the team is getting elite goaltending from both Juuse Saros and backup goaltender Kevin Lankinen. During this streak, each of these goaltenders have shown that they can help their teams win important games and provide them with the goaltending that is needed to go on the type of streak that they are currently on.

Saros, 28, has put together another solid year for the Predators. He is currently 31-21-0-4 with a 2.73 goals-against average, a .909 save percentage, and three shutouts.

While his future with the club is unknown after this season, Saros is showing the team, their fans, and management that he is worth keeping around. He has been one of the most consistent goaltenders in the league for awhile and right now, he has shown that he can carry the team into the playoffs.

Lankinen, 28, has also provided consistent goaltending for the Predators. He is currently 10-4 with a 2.90 goals-against average, a .904 save percentage, and one shutout.

He has been terrific in his last three starts:

  • February 25th vs. the Anaheim Ducks: Stopped 29 of 31 shots in a victory.
  • March 9th vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets: Stopped 31 of 34 shots in a victory.
  • March 21st vs. the Florida Panthers: 33-save shutout.

Another reason why the Predators are having a lot of success right now is because of the play of their two best players – Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi. These two have put the team on their respective backs and are doing what they are supposed to do in order to help their team win.

Forsberg, 29, currently leads the team in scoring with 78 points on 39 goals and 39 assists. He is a threat to score every time on the ice as he has a great shot, has great vision, and is not afraid to go to the dirty areas to score goals.

Josi, 33, is having another James Norris Memorial Trophy-like season for his hockey club. He is currently second on the team with 72 points on 18 goals and 54 assists while also being great at blocking shots, being smart with the puck, playing responsibly in his own zone, and being the team’s most reliable player.

Lastly, team head coach Andrew Brunette is doing a great job. He has pressed all the right buttons this season, including cancelling a scheduled trip to see U2 in Vegas, and has gotten his team to play the way he wants them to play.

While the streak will not last forever, the Predators have shown the rest of the league that when they play the right way, get timely goals, and great goaltending, they are one of the toughest teams to beat in the league. This could make them a tough outcome at playoff time.

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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