The Nashville Predators, widely regarded as the best in hockey, even recently by the New York Times, are simply not right now. Four consecutive losses have spoiled the eight-point lead they had over all other NHL including an embarrassing 3-1 loss to the Devils. Ladies and Gents, I present to you the highlights of a week’s hockey games.
The Fall of Giants
The best-in-hockey Predators are just the Predators for now. This is largely due to Pekka Rinne, as well as the Predators defensive line, not playing up to form. In the last four games, they’ve given up 15 goals, compared to 9 goals over six games during their win streak last month. To put this into perspective: two weeks ago, the Preds came off a 6-game win streak as favorites against the Islanders. Now, losers of 6 of 8 (with wins against lowly Buffalo and Colorado, last place in their respective divisions), nobody expects the Predators to beat the Islanders later tonight.
While Nashville has been losing, its chief competitors for the President’s Trophy, the Anaheim Ducks, have taken advantage of the losses to win three straight and tie the Preds at 89 points. With identical records, Nashville wins the tiebreaker with the better home record. If trajectories hold, Anaheim will take the lead.
The Still Contending
The Panthers and Flyers have both lost 6 of 10, which hurts them dearly. The Bruins, formerly reeling from a 5-game losing streak, have pulled themselves together and recorded back-to-back wins to help balance the scales, maintaining their precarious two-point hold on the 8th spot of the Eastern Conference. Admittedly, those wins were against the Devils and Coyotes, the latter of which has managed to lose 10 in a row. More about that later. But still, you get two points whether you beat the Sabers or the Habs, so Boston fans are certainly appreciative for the easy wins.
In the West, the Calgary Flames, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks all sit tied for 8th with 72 points. At present, Calgary wins the tiebreaker, but that won’t hold. A part of me is happy for the competition, which will ensure fierce play as the season wanes. If nothing else, it will offer more excitement than the East.
The Penguins and Blues have both had good weeks, as well as the now irrelevant Senators. But realistically, there was very little movement this week. Be sure to watch the Penguins play at Anaheim, the Jets in Nashville, and the Rangers in Chicago.
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