After Thursday's win over Minnesota, Preds coach Barry Trotz made a very specif point that offered no wiggle room, "We got points in five of our last six games. We just have to collect points. How you do it, we don't really care."
Last night, every game that involved teams that the Predators are battling with went the way that negatively affected the Predators playoff chances. While the Predators were snugly nestled in the middle of the top eight for over a month and a half, they no longer have that luxury.
The Preds are in tenth place and two points tonight will still leave them outside the top eight at eighty points. All is not lost, however, four teams are at 80 points and the Preds start the day only four points behind fourth place Dallas.
Other than the games the Preds play, they cannot affect what other teams do so they are left with the sole task of being "point collectors."
Tonight's target is the hapless Colorado Avalanche who will visit the Predators tonight at 7 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena. The Avs have lost 17 of 18 and got drilled 6-2 by Anaheim last night in Colorado. Can anyone say "trap game"?
This is the third meeting between the two teams and is totally different than the circus type atmosphere leading up to the game in Nashville on February 12 which was the Predator debut of Mike Fisher and what would end up being Peter Forsberg's final NHL game. The Preds won that game 5-3 in a big comeback. Their other meeting was in Colorado on January 20 when the Preds won 5-1 and were flying high during one of their better stretches of the season.
The Avalanche team that will be here tonight is far different than the ones the Preds have faced previously. Gone are goalie Craig Anderson (traded to Ottawa for Brian Elliott),young stars Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart (sent to St. Louis for Erik Johnson and Jay McClement), and obviously Forsberg.
The Avalanche also lead the league in man-games lost due to injury at 349. Last night, Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk joined the long list of injuries that already included Kyle Cumiskey,
Tomas Fleischmann, T.J. Galiardi, John-Michael Liles,Peter Mueller, Kyle Quincey, and Ryan Stoa (appendectomy).
Mike Fisher left Thursday's game in the third period and did not return. He was said to be probable after yesterday's off ice practice and Josh Cooper Tweets that Fisher says he's playing tonight.
Pekka Rinne (24-19-8, 2.08, .930) will be in net for Nashville tonight and the Avalanche will chose between Brian Elliott (13-23-9, 3.32, .891), who gave up six goals last night, and Peter Budaj (13-14-4, 3.20, .895).
The Predators return to the ice in the third of five games in the current homestand when they play the L.A, Kings on Tuesday.
Other previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Chris Burton, Patten Fuqua, The Tennessean, and Predators.com.
For previews from Denver check out Adrian Dater, Aaron Musick, Mile High Hockey, The Avalanche Guild, Jibblescribbits, and AvsHockeyPodcast.
In Pred Nation...
Amanda DiPaolo has the story of the future being now for Blake Geoffrion and Jon Blum.
In Goal Magazine has a tremendous feature on Anders Lindback is a story titled Goon to Goalie. It is a must read.
Bryan Mullen looks at the Erat, Legwand, Ward line sticking to basics and has notes from yesterday's practice.
Josh Cooper explains what Barry Trotz wants from Colin Wilson.
Predators Prospects Ryan Ellis, Taylor Beck, and Michael Latta racked up in the OHL Western Conference coaches poll of superlatives.
Chris Burton breaks down Joel Wards goal against Minnesota.
Paul McCann discusses the ramifications of Thursday's win over Minnesota.
Mark Willoughby has his weekly "My View" with an interesting note about where all the nation's money is sitting.
Mass Live talked to Paul Fenton about Blake Geoffrion's arrival in the NHL.
Milwaukee Coach Lane Lambert is very concerned about the Admirals 2-0 loss to the Rockford Icehogs last night.
Rachel at What the Puck reminds everyone that tonight's game is a Hockey Fights Cancer fundraiser.
Your used Predators ticket stub is worth a quarter of a Hunt Brothers Pizza at participating location.
Around the NHL...
The Chicago Blackhawks finally made their visit to the White House to meet the president yesterday in a festive media event that was well attended. The appearance tied in to Gary Bettman's appearance promoting kids playing hockey as a part of the "Let's Move" initiative. Here's what Obama said followed by a video of a highlight.
Bob McKenzie sets the stage for the head hit discussions in the upcoming GM meetings in Florida.
Ryan Porth has the latest edition of his Trophy Tracker at the RLD and updates his stretch run series.
There were rumors yesterday that Sidney Crosby's family wanted him to retire but they appear to have been properly refuted.
The Wings appear to have another budding young star forward from Europe in Teemu Pulkkinen. Takien 11th in last summers fraft, he is playing at a point a game pace for Jokerit.
Adam Proteau has the top ten surprises of this NHL season. Obviously the Devils are number one.
Here is an excellent point from @JeffMarek: And the ultimate point that was underscored again this week is that nhl hockey is too fast to be safe. When it get to that point like in in NASCAR where they implemented restrictor plates to slow the cars down. I don't think that is possible with humans.
The Tea Party folks were not happy with the answers that they got from Glendale officials about the Coyote's situation. So what other groups are going to come out of the wood work to cast an opinion?
Odds and Ends...
This post has a cool picture from the early space era in Cocoa Beach.
Tina Fey separates the men from the women in this post about her SNL experience.
Here is someone else's account of what is my favorite hike in Sedona, Arizona, going up the back side of Cathedral Rock.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass