It’s way too early to say that the Nashville Predators will make or break their season (and their opponents’ seasons) in the next two games, but each one of those contests sport a “steel cage match in Wrestlemania” feel.
While winning both games in regulation won’t guarantee the Predators a playoff berth, earning success against the Anaheim Ducks tonight and the Dallas Stars on Saturday would absolutely go a long way in helping them get the job done. In a matter of three days, Nashville could earn a nice cushion or be in some serious trouble in the Western Conference playoff race.
Tonight’s game is a should-win for the Predators because the Ducks are coming off a dramatic and emotional win against the Stars in Dallas last night. Neither one of those teams are just going to roll over for Nashville, but with home ice advantage on their side, the Predators would deeply regret letting these opportunities slip through their fingers.
After all, the Predators might hold a lead over the Ducks and Stars, but they have some disadvantages going for them as well. Let’s take a look at the West bubble, via NBC’s standings.
So the Predators have the most points (88), but one less game remaining than the Ducks and Stars. The Ducks lead the pack with wins (41) so they likely would earn a tie-breaker if things trend the same way.
Again, it’s incorrect to boil this race down to those two games, even for the Predators. They will enjoy a very friendly closing schedule, with six of their last eight at home.
Still, there aren’t many contests left and this might be their best chance to “control their destiny” by actually playing against the two clubs most likely to foil their plans. It should be intriguing to watch and we’ll keep you up to date on how it all plays out.
It seems there will be no NHL comeback attempt by Alex Semin. At least not in 2016-17.
Instead, Semin has inked a one-year extension with Magnitogorsk Metallurg, according to Sport-Express writer Igor Eronko.
At 32 years old, Semin still could have a lot of years left in him as a professional hockey player, but at this point it wouldn’t be surprising if he has played in his last NHL game. Early in his career his talent was clear and demonstrated by some great showings offensively, but he was plagued by inconsistency. In recent years though, he wasn’t so much inconsistent as he was underwhelming.
After being limited to six goals and 19 points in 57 games with Carolina in 2014-15, the one-time 40-goal scorer was bought out of his five-year, $35 million contract just two seasons into it. Montreal took a chance on him for 2015-16, but he only appeared in 15 games with the Canadiens before they put him on unconditional waivers on Dec. 9.
He’s fared better in the KHL though, with five goals and 14 points in 20 regular season games followed by another seven markers and 15 points in 23 playoff contests.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Among the 21 NHL.com and NHL Network experts offering their prediction for the Stanley Cup Final, 17 of them are choosing the San Jose Sharks. (NHL.com)
The majority of ESPN’s experts are also picking the Sharks. (ESPN.com)
For CBS Sports, Adam Gretz and Chris Peters are split on the outcome. (CBS Sports)
Tickets for the first Stanley Cup Final in San Jose appear to be going for significantly more than their Pittsburgh Penguins counterparts. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Inspired by John Scott‘s comments, here’s the start of a World Cup All-Snubs’ team. (TSN)
Peter DeBoer said that then New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello fired him from the Devils’ head coaching job late at night on Christmas. The news then broke on Dec. 26. (Tom Gulitti)
The Pittsburgh Penguins are Vegas favorites to win the 2016 Stanley Cup, but the odds lean toward a San Jose Sharks player capturing the Conn Smythe.
Bovada released a variety of odds on Sunday after others surfaced on Friday.
Joe Pavelski is pegged as a +400 favorite as a winner, edging some other top candidates such as Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Matt Murray.
Here’s the full list:
Logan Couture +500
Martin Jones +600
Brent Burns +700
Joe Thornton +900
Evgeni Malkin +900
Kris Letang +1400
Bovada also released prop bets, including how long the series might last. Check that out here.