The Nashville Predators have ten games until the two week Olympic break begins. Twenty precious points on the line. The Predators aren't going to lock up a playoff spot in the next ten games, but they certainly could play themselves out of a playoff spot during this critical stretch.
The Predators play six of the ten games on the road, which, to date, has been good to them. It is important for this team to continue to play the style of hockey that has gotten them to this point: determined, gritty, lunch pail hockey. They have to shoot the puck and crash the net; they have to play sound defense; and they have to get top flight goaltending. This has been their formula for success. Don't stray from it.
The Predators need some guys to step up and start finding the back of the net. I'm talking to you Jason Arnott, J.P. Dumont, David Legwand, and Marty Erat. Shoot the puck guys. Good things happen when you do.
Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis- you guys have been good but not great. Time for one of you to step up and declare that the number one goaltender job is yours.
And no more "flat" starts. That is unacceptable. Especially when you come back to home ice.
Currently, Nashville is tied for sixth in the West with Los Angeles. Both teams have 61 points. Phoenix has 63 points; Vancouver 64; and Colorado 66. These are the teams that we are chasing. We have a game in hand on Phoenix.
The teams that are chasing us are Calgary and Detroit with 58 points, and Anaheim and Dallas with 55. The tightness of the race emphasizes that you have to bring it every night. This is playoff hockey in January.
If you believe that it will take 95 points to secure a playoff spot, then the Preds need to go 17-14-1 over the remainder of the season. 100 points means the guys have to go 19-12-1.
It's difficult to believe that we are playing playoff hockey in January. This is the nature of the ultra competitive Western Conference. This is what you were built for, boys. Gritty, balls to the wall hockey. Not pretty, not flashy, ready for a war every night.
Injuries are starting to mount. Guys that have been contributors are out of the line up. So be it. Every team faces this fact of life in the game. When you put on that sweater, there are no excuses. It's time to bring it.
We believe in you. You have shown amazing heart and character to this point. You have had a season that no one expected, surprising everyone but the guys in that locker room. Know what got you to this point and build on that success.
Capture these critical games. Continue to confound the critics. And show the hockey world you are for real.