Through thirty games of the Nashville Predators 2014-15 season, we have learned much about the group of players assembled by the management and coaching staff. We are now sure that this team is decidedly contending for more than just a position in the NHL post-season race towards this season’s Stanley Cup. We’ve also learned that this is a Preds team that absolutely believes it can win on any given night, and has proven it by being competitive in virtually every game they’ve played since the start of the season. This passionate, competitive and winning play is the greatest gift Preds fans have received from the players and coaches during first ten weeks of the NHL season.
Returning home after a three game road trip that netted two impressive wins (vs. Colorado and Arizona) and a hard fought defeat against Carolina, the Predators played a single home game vs. the Boston Bruins last night, before they head back on the road for games Saturday (Minnesota), Monday (Columbus) and Tuesday (Boston.)
Last night’s game, an impressive 3-2 shootout victory, was perhaps the most entertaining game of the season from an unbiased hockey fan’s perspective, as the tilt featured everything you want to see from both teams. Fine goaltending by the two Finns, Boston’s Tuukka Rask, and the Predators’ Pekka Rinne, solid defense, tight checking, some hard hitting, and of course, a few goals interspersed throughout, which brought the crowd to their feet, and electrified the arena (which included a healthy, but not Illinoisingly so, dose of Bruin fans.)
With the win, Nashville picked up their fourth shootout victory in five tries this season, further putting an exclamation point on the solid netminding of Rinne, who currently leads the NHL in three major goaltending categories: Goals Against Average (1.76), Wins (20) and Save Percentage (.937).
Not to be overlooked in last night’s game, was the tally by Mike Fisher, his second of the season, scored on the power play, which put the team on the scoreboard after Boston had taken an initial 1-0 lead. The goal was just Nashville’s second home PPG all season (the first coming back on opening night against Ottawa, over two months ago.)
At just 2 for 48 at home on the PP, Nashville will not have the opportunity to improve on those numbers until their next game at Bridgestone, Saturday December 27th against the Philadelphia Flyers, who will come to town in a far more dismal state than our Preds. The Flyers currently sit in 7th place in the Metro Division, leading only the league worst Carolina Hurricanes. With Philly’s season slowly getting away from any chance at the post season, the Preds will hope some home cooking will continue to revitalize their offense, and improve on their already impressive 12-2-1 home record.
Unfortunately for the Preds last night, both chief division rivals, the Blackhawks and Blues also won their games, keeping Nashville in third place in the Central Division, with 42 points, trailing St. Louis (43) and Chicago (45), though the Preds do have one game in hand on the Blues, and two on the Hawks. Things are really tight in the NHL Central Division! While players and coaches claim they don’t look at the standings, and their focus is merely on the game in front of them, we know that as the team heads into 2015, scoreboard watching will get extremely intense for the fans, who appear to be treated to post-season play for the first time in three years.
For now we want to wish all of our readers a happy and joyous holiday season. I will be back next week with a recap of the road trip, and a preview of things to come as we close out both 2014, and the first half of the NHL campaign.
For more Nashville Predators coverage, follow @mdnathan on Twitter and keep cheering for our winning hockey team! Go Preds Go!