Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recipe for a Predators Playoff Run

As the Nashville Predators head west to Vancouver to begin a three game swing to open the post All-Star game portion of the season, I propose six needed ingredients that must occur in order for the team to have a chance at a Western Conference playoff berth.

1. Put Pekka Rinne in goal and ride him as hard as they can. If Rinne doesn’t start 30 of the final 36 games, the Preds don’t stand a chance of playing past the second week in April. Pekka has been the most consistent goalie and the team plays better in front of him than they do Dan Ellis.

2. Play the kids. The Predators appear snake bit in this area since playing Jones and Hornqvist at the beginning of the season did not pay immediate dividends. While still rough around the edges, Ryan Jones adds toughness to the team in front of the net that is sorely needed. Mike Santorelli has shined in Milwaukee, winning the AHL Player of the Month in December and he hasn’t slowed down since. For a team starving for offense, there is no reason to let him produce a point a game in the minors.

3. Stick with line combinations that work and make sense. The lines in the last several games have been all over the map and have not produced the needed offense. I propose Arnott-Dumont-Santorelli, Sullivan-Legwand-Erat, Tootoo-Fiddler-Jones, and Bonk-Philstrom and whoever else is ready to play on a given night.

4. Pick up a sniper soon. This team has been short a goal scorer since Radulov bolted for the KHL. Move Greg deVris, Ville Koistinen and draft picks for a proven scorer. Both D-Men need a change of scenery and the Preds are stocked with blue liners. Alexander Sulzer has been recalled to play and Cody Franson may not be far behind.

5. Dominate at home and break even on the road. The Predators have a history of winning at home that has gone by the wayside in the last month. They have also done well in streaks on the road and need to do so for the remainder of the schedule. Realistically, the Preds need 48 points in the last 36 games. There can be no off nights at home or away to pick up points at this pace.

6. Consistency on Special Teams. The Predators penalty kill is sixth in the league while the power play ranks twenty-ninth despite scoring in four of the last five games. Continuation of this disparity will lead to a long summer break.

These ingredients for success are much easier to to propose than to put in action. The Predators need to start with a solid effort tonight against the Vancouver Canucks at 9:30 Central televised locally on FS Tennessee.

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass and the Columbia Daily Herald

No comments: