The Nashville Predators have four critical games against top opponents this week. The Predators have clawed their way back to ninth place and sit one point outside of eighth and the final playoff spot and three points out of fourth in the tightly bunched Western Conference.
Sunday produced a trio of games that were somewhat favorable to the Predators plight. In the early game, Washington beat Chicago 4-3 in overtime when they couldn't hold Chicago off in regulation.
Then, in a dramatic finish, Dallas tied the Kings with 43 seconds left in the contest and then Michael Hanzsus scored the game winner with 21 seconds left. It was great to see a team not playing for the tie at the end of a game.
Finally, in a less thrilling game, Phoenix beat Anaheim, 5-2 in the final contest of the day.
The Predators return to action on Tuesday against the Kings who currently sit three points ahead of the Preds in fourth place in the West. The Predators have lost two of three to the Kings this season.
On Thursday, the Preds have their only meeting of the year with the Boston Bruins who currently have 85 points and sit a top of the Northeast Division. It should be a meeting between the top two Vezina trophy contenders with Pekka Rinne facing Tim Thomas in a St. Patrick's Day showdown.
Saturday, the Detroit Red Wings come to Nashville in the biggest traditional rivalry in franchise history. The Wings have 90 points and will easily win the Central Division title barring a complete collapse.
After the game on Saturday, the Preds will fly to Buffalo where they will play the Sabres on Sunday night. Buffalo is fighting for a playoff position int the the Eastern Conference as they sit in seventh place with 76 points.
By this time next week, we should have a lot better idea of whether this Predators team is ready to make a run to get in the playoffs as well as making noise if they do. These four games against top caliber opponents will provide a good measuring stick for the team.
Here is our game story from Saturday night with post game video.
Josh Cooper had his game story, notes column, and postgame ponderings.
Jim Diamond has the story of Joel Ward's stick replacement leading to the game winning goal.
David Boclair has his story at The City Paper that focuses on Joel Ward's hot streak.
From the blog world reports come from Ryan Porth, Amanda DiPaolo, Teresa Walker, Mark Willoughby, Chris Burton, Jeremy Gover, Predatorial, Fang Finger Fever, and Hockey Night in Nashville.
Ryan Porth has the memory of an elephant as he pulled out a carbon copy of Joel Ward's goal on Saturday night from a game against Dallas two years ago.
HockeyFights.com has the video and tale of the tape of the Jordin Tootoo - Ryan Wilson fight on Saturday.
The other side of the story comes from Adrian Dater, Aaron Musick, Mile High Hockey, The Avalanche Guild, Jibblescribbits, and AvsHockeyPodcast.
Audio clips from Saturday come from Joel Ward, Jordin Tootoo, Pekka Rinne, Colorado Coach Joe Sacco, Adam Foote, and Ryan O'Reilly.
In Pred Nation...
David Boclair looks at the Predators' uneven performances. Consistency is not something this team has been known for.
Kristopher Martel met with Nick Spaling for an interview and has an excellent post on the Preds' young defensive specialist.
Preds.com met with Jeff Cogen for a mid-season update on the Predators financial situation.
Shea Weber will be at Walmart on Mallory Lane at 3:30 today signing autographs.
There was a speculative story out of Edmonton that the Oilers may make a play for Sea Weber in the offseason. This is not the first time we have heard this.
Here's a post that I missed from Edward Fraser at THN making a case for it being good business sense for the Predators to trade Shea Weber rather than pay his market value. I've said all along that the Preds should not over pay to keep him.
Robby at HNIN is happy to see the revival of Marty Erat. He is also sporting a #Pekka4Hart logo that I really like.
The Milwaukee Admirals beat Peoria 2-1 last night.
Here is a sad tale of a dinner with Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher that never happened.
Around the NHL...
Forer Buffalo Saberes star Rick Martin was killed in a car accident after suffering a heart attack yesterday.
Chris Johnson has a complete preview of this week's GM meetings in Florida.
Matt Reitz has interesting perspective about the union wanting the GM's to do something about head shots in the past and still no solution as the GM meetings start today.
Nick Cotsonika looks at the concussion issue as the GM meetings begin.
RLD Hockey's Saturday Face-off takes a look at the Zdeno Chara hit. Ryan also thinks out loud on several topics including Pekka for Hart.
Terry Frei has a piece on Erik Johnson getting a second chance with Colorado.
PHT has the exclusive "Kane cam" view of Chicago's visit to the White House.
Charlie Sheen Night at the Bakersville Condor game on Saturday was a major success.
Odds and Ends...
Here's what happens when you have a saxophone and aren't afraid to play it anywhere. It's a funny video.
Are earthquakes headed to the Americas? This Russian scientist thinks so.
Baseball Spring Training my be leaving Brevard County, Florida for the first time in years. Here's a story on how East Coast teams are disappearing.
Buddy aokes for PredsOnTheGlass