The climb toward the playoffs continues tonight as the Preds wrap up a five game homestand against division rival Columbus. Columbus is 6th in the Western Conference with 70 points, Edmonton sits in 7th with 68 points, and the Predators occupy 8th with 68 points because Edmonton has a game in hand on the Preds.This is another huge game tonight as the Preds look to move further up the Western Confernce standings and start to seperate themselves from the teams that are out of the playoff picture.
We have been able to laughingly in the past refer to Columbus as the "Dinner Jackets", but no more. The coming of age of Steve Mason in goals for the BJ's has given this team confidence and the talent level has improved around Rick Nash. Columbus is fighting for their first ever playoff berth, and for this franchise, it is considered to be critical to their fan support to get into the post season. Newly acquired Antoine Vermette could be in the lineup tonight provided that he can clear up a problem with his visa (not the credit card) and get into the States.
The Preds now face their final 18 games with the roster that has brought them back in to playoff contention. This group has shown they can score and play solid D. Pekka Rinne has established himself as a legitimate Calder Trophy candidate. We all know the talent to win is there. Now we are seeing the drive, the grit, and the heart to win and carry this team back to the postseason. Gotta have the focus, consistency, and intensity tonight, boys, for this playoff game before the playoffs.