You seriously can't count on St. Louis to do anything right. When we want them to win - they lose. When we want them to lose - they win. Overall though, I guess it is better to bring yourself into the playoffs, which is exactly what the Hawks can do with a win over Nashville tonight.
Hell, even a single point tonight guarantees the Hawks cannot fall any further than 8th and that this will be the first squad since 2002 to not be breaking out the golf clubs early.
With a Calgary victory over Dallas and Vancouver going to the shootout with Anaheim, the Hawks have fallen back to 5th place in the West but a win puts them right over those Canadians (with an A) and back on track for home ice.
It's not exactly going to be an easy task (it never is) because with the Blues' win the Predators have been pushed down to 9th overall and a single point out of the playoff picture.
The Predators have taken their usual game plan and are slowly sneaking their way into the playoffs again, getting ready for that first round exit to the Wings or Sharks. You'd want to talk more shit about them til you realize they've made it to the post-season four years in a row. The last time the Hawks made the post-season four times in a row? '93-'97
The Preds are helped by their latest run - they have 13 points in their last 10 games (5-2-3) and like most teams in the Central, the Predators have beaten up on the Hawks so far this season, 1-2-1.
The last game the Hawks played against this team was February 24th, a putrid effort that saw a 2-goal lead vanish and the Preds scoring 4 in the third period. Let us speak no more of it.
Pekka Rinne is likely to be minding net for the Preds tonight which isn't great news for the Hawks. Rinne could be a candidate for the Calder if it wasn't for that pesky Steve Mason. Sorry to everyone who still has hopes for VERSTEEG! to bring home that trophy, but those dreams should died a long time ago - it's best if you just leave them at the door.
|2008 - Pekka Rinne||47||2693||27||12||4||4||101||2.25||1293||1192||.922||7|
Rinne is near the top of the league in both GAA and SV% and is a large part of the reason the Preds are still hanging around the playoff picture. He can steal a game from you.
The Hawks offense will need to continue to step it up. Goal scoring isn't a main concern for the Preds (24th in G/G) but they're solid defensively. Having Rinne helps but they're also 11th overall in ShotsA/G and 4th overall on the kill. On The Forecheck has more of a comparison of stats as well as a great chart on penalties drawn vs. penalties taken. Awesome stuff.
Finally, where would a good Predators preview be without a little Tootoo bashing, right? And lately, no one has based Tootoo better than Brad Staubitz.... so take it away Brad:
UPDATE: Tonight's Lines
Kane - Toews - Havlat
VERSTEEG! - Tallywhacker - The Shooter
Ladd - Pahlsson - Buff
Eager - Fraser - Burish
Lets Go Hawks