It all depends on how the remainder of the regular season plays out, but Monday’s game between the L.A. Kings and Nashville Predators could’ve been a preview of a potential first-round playoff series.
The Predators have made a strong push down the stretch drive and that includes this most recent 5-2 win over the Kings. Ryan Johansen score once and add two assists, as Nashville was able to fend off a third-period comeback attempt from L.A.
“Well, Jonathan’s going to play every game for us, so hopefully he can play the whole game,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter, as per LA Kings Insider.
For the Predators, who are 6-2-2 in their last 10, could they perhaps be a dark horse entering these playoffs?
There are five teams in the West — Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, L.A. and Anaheim — you could put ahead of the Predators as being favored to go on a lengthy playoff run. But since the middle of February, the Predators have been on a consistent run of positive results, including that 14-game point streak.
They also sport the league’s fourth best Corsi For rating (52.6 per cent) at even strength and the fifth best Scoring Chance rating at plus-204 at even strength.
One of their areas of concern throughout this season, or at least prior to the All-Star break as pointed out by The Tennessean, has been the goaltending of Pekka Rinne, whose personal statistics are down from last season. (He had a .923 save percentage in 2014-15 and is down to .910 in 2015-16). He did stop 28 of 30 shots faced Monday.
But a win over the Kings could also give the Predators an additional boost as the regular season closes down in the next few weeks.
“It’s very special,” Johansen told NHL.com.
“We’ve got a lot of young bodies in this room. I think when they go home tonight, they’re going to look at the standings and the result tonight and say ‘Wow, we beat one of the best teams in the League and a team that’s talked about a lot as a Stanley Cup contender.’ We definitely use it as confidence throughout our group in this room and maybe being the playoff match-up.”