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The Predators are still fighting for the Central title or they could face the battle-hardened Blackhawks in the first round. That's not an ideal situation, but is there such a thing in the Western Conference this year?
The Predators have bounced back from their late-season lull in resounding fashion. Pekka Rinne appears to be back on track and the Preds have a three-point lead in the Central Division.
The Preds have three wins in their past 12 games, two vs. the Coyotes and Sabres. Nashville isn't only at risk of losing the division, it may not even get home ice in the first round because the Blackhawks are only two points behind them.
With 10 losses in their last 14 games, the questions and concerns about the Predators as a legitimate threat in the playoffs are growing. The scoring isn't where it needs to be for this team to have success and they're at risk of a first-round date with the seasoned Blackhawks.
A six-game losing streak has shaken some of the faith in the Predators as a contender, but even good teams go through rough patches. Nashville's comfortable Central Division lead has started to erode, however. Winning the division should be a priority for the best first-round matchup.
David Poile didn't get involved in the craziness of the deadline, and he didn't have to. The earlier trade to acquire Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli addressed the few needs he had. The Predators look like a team that at least has a shot to do some special things.
The Predators are now six points ahead of the next closest team (Anaheim) in the NHL standings after winning seven of their last 10. Pekka Rinne's February save percentage is a robust .931 as he continues his stellar play this year.
Now the Predators are just showing off. They've won five straight and added two solid players in Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli to make a good lineup deeper.
The Preds have looked human more recently, but they're heating up again with four wins in their last five games. They've opened up a four-point lead on the Blues in the Central race as well.
The loss of Pekka Rinne didn't prevent the Preds from climbing back to the very top of the NHL standings. There hasn't been a better team on home ice this season, either, as the Predators have gone 19-2-1 in Nashville. That bodes well for the playoffs.
Preseason Power Rankings
It's only two games in, but Peter Laviolette's new offense-friendly system seems to be taking hold in Nashville. They have the speed to play at the pace Laviolette expects and it's led to back-to-back wins.
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