Found April 04, 2012 on Fox Sports Tennessee:
Nashville_predators_v_0beb
NASHVILLE, Tenn. Predators coach Barry Trotz signaled to his team on Monday that the top priority for the regular seasons final week was resting No. 1 goalie Pekka Rinne, rather than trying to secure home ice for the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Entering Wednesdays games, Nashville is fourth with 100 points, Detroit is fifth with 99 and Chicago is sixth with 98. Conceivably, all three Central Division teams could finish in any order from Nos. 4 through 6. Its mathematically impossible for any of them to finish higher or lower than those spots. So with four days left before all of the games are complete, the jockeying is on. Some say that the most enviable seed is No. 6, as it guarantees facing the Pacific Division champion, which cannot finish with more points than any of the above three Central teams. (The NHL guarantees that a division champion can be seeded no lower than No. 3 in each of its conferences.) Here is a breakdown of what could happen: NASHVILLE The Predators need only to win one of their final two games or a regulation loss by Chicago in one of its final two to guarantee that the Predators will finish higher than the Blackhawks. The Predators own the tiebreaker with Chicago. On Thursday, Nashville hosts ninth-place Dallas, whose playoff chances are on life support. The Stars have 89 points, three less than eighth-place San Jose, with two games remaining. On Saturday, Nashville finishes on the road against Colorado, which could be eliminated by then. If the Avs (88 points) do not beat Columbus on Thursday or through several combinations of San Jose and Phoenix gaining a point, the Avs will be eliminated. As a result, Nashville probably has the easiest schedule remaining, especially as they do not have a rivalry game remaining, as the Red Wings and Blackhawks do in their season finale on Saturday. DETROIT The Red Wings control their destiny, as they have three games remaining, but they have the toughest schedule left. The play three games in 85 hours: on Wednesday at St. Louis, the Central Division champion, which still has a chance to win the Presidents Trophy for the leagues top regular season record; on Thursday they host New Jersey, owner of the leagues sixth-best record who still has a chance to improve seeding, and on Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern they host Chicago. The Red Wings also are stumbling to the finish. They are 3-5-2 in their last 10 and have lost seven in a row on the road. But they retain a core of players who have won Stanley Cups and competed in the final. They are a team never to be underestimated. By one scenario, if Detroit goes 2-0-1 and Nashville wins its last two, the Predators would finish fourth. The Red Wings own the leagues best home record (31-6-2) and earlier this season set an NHL record for consecutive home wins (23). Regardless, winning their final two home games will not be easy. Its plausible that the Red Wings will earn three or four points in their last three (1-1-1 or 2-1). If so, they open the door to Nashville to have home ice in the teams first-round series, which could be a big problem for them, considering their road woes lately. The Blackhawks could conceivably catch the Red Wings by winning their last two, including a regulation win over Detroit in the finale. Chicago has not lost in regulation to Detroit this season (3-0-2) and with a win in regulation in the season finale and a win on Thursday at Minnesota could earn 102 points. If the Red Wings go 1-0-1 in their other two games, the Blackhawks would catch them for fifth, as the Blackhawks would own the tiebreaker (their ROWs would both be 40 but the Blackhawks would win have more points in the head-to-head competition). CHICAGO If captain Jonathan Toews returns on Thursday after sitting out 20 straight games with a concussion Toews made the trip on Wednesday -- the Blackhawks could get a big lift on the road at Minnesota, which has been eliminated but is playing good hockey lately (3-0-1 in their last four, including an overtime win on Sunday over Chicago). Also, former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Duncan Keith returns on Thursday after sitting out a five-game suspension. Chicagos chances of finishing fourth are almost out of reach, as Nashville needs only one win or a regulation loss by Chicago to prevent the Blackhawks from finishing fourth. However, Chicagos chances of catching Detroit for fifth could be a lot better, especially since they have a head-to-head game with the Red Wings, who could be tired in that season finale. If the Blackhawks who are going in the opposite direction of the Red Wings, having lost only once in regulation in their last 10 win that game in regulation, they could set themselves up for the No. 5 seed. The big question is, do they want it, particularly if Nashville is the No. 4 seed. Even with a 5-4 victory at Nashville on Saturday, the Blackhawks have fared terribly against the Predators this season. Nashville earned nine of a possible 12 points and outscored Chicago 25-16 in the series. Even in the Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup run, perhaps their toughest series was in the opening round against the Predators (Chicago scored a shorthanded goal with its goalie pulled in the waning seconds of regulation to force overtime and win in Game 5 at home otherwise it would have trailed 3-2 going back to Nashville for Game 6).
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Rinne's humble beginnings lead to greatness

NASHVILLE As the story goes, Pekka Rinne played so rarely back in his native Finland that the Predators' scout who found him based his opinions solely on what he saw in warm-ups. The Predators drafted the goalie in 2004 four years after he became eligible, meaning that for four years no other team saw anything in him that made him worth gambling a pick on, even in the eighth...

Predators blank Stars 2-0, now control their own destiny in pursuit of home ice advantage

Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators shut out the Dallas Stars 2-0 on Thursday night. With the win, the Predators move into fourth spot in the Western Conference standings, one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings.  Nashville now controls its own destiny in the fight for home ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with one game remaining on the schedule...

Wild to face Nashvilles No. 2 goalie

TUESDAY'S STORY LINES: The Minnesota Wild will go for their fourth straight win and try to continue to play spoiler Tuesday night in Nashville. The Wild will be facing the Predators, who are fighting for the fourth spot in the Western Conference. The fourth spot would guarantee Nashville home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Currently the Predators sit in fifth place with...

Preview #80: Predators look to tighten up defensively when they host Wild on Tuesday

Season Records Minnesota Wild 34-35-10 Nashville Predators 45-26-8 Rinne has an 8-3-1 record against the Wild. On Tuesday, the Nashville Predators host the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena. In the last three games, all victories, the Wild have scored 12 goals. The Predators will be looking to limit the goals against on Tuesday night. “We can’t win if we let in 5 goals. The...

Chet Pickard's assignment to Milwaukee signals Rinne's return

After dressing for his first NHL game on Tuesday night as Anders Lindback's backup, Chet Pickard has been assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals.This move is a pretty good indication that Pekka Rinne will at a minimum be able to dress as the backup. A quote from Barry Trotz on Josh Cooper's Twitter indicated that "(Rinne) is probably in."Make the jump for the full release...

Predators move into fourth place, end Stars' playoff hopes

Pekka Rinne turned aside all 28 shots he faced to make defenseman Francis Bouillon's third-period goal stand up as the host Nashville Predators blanked the Dallas Stars 2-0. The win lifted the Predators past the Detroit Red Wings and into fourth place in the Western Conference. The loss officially eliminated Dallas from postseason contention. Patric Hornqvist provided insurance...

Nashville back in the driver seat, Rinne gets his 5th shutout beating Dallas 2-0

Photo Credit: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images Nothing was settled coming into Thursday night’s game against the Dallas Stars, but one thing was for sure: If Nashville wanted to attempt to grab the 4th seed in the Western Conference and home ice advantage, they HAD to win against the Stars. On top of Pekka Rinne’s 28 save shutout, Nashville officially eliminated the Dallas...

Predators eliminate Stars with shutout victory

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Nashville coach Barry Trotz insists he knew nothing of Detroit's loss just as his Predators went into the third period needing a win of their own to grab back the chance of landing home-ice advantage to start the playoffs. His Predators sure responded as if they did. Pekka Rinne made 28 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, Francis Bouillon scored...

Stars eliminated from playoffs by Predators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Nashville coach Barry Trotz insists he knew nothing of Detroit's loss just as his Predators went into the third period needing a win of their own to grab back the chance of landing home-ice advantage to start the playoffs. His Predators sure responded as if they did. Pekka Rinne made 28 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, Francis Bouillon scored...

Preview #81: Predators host Dallas in regular season home finale

Season Records Dallas Stars 42-33-5 Nashville Predators 46-26-8 The Nashville Predators wrap up the home portion of their regular season when they host the Dallas Stars on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville has been consistently strong at home over the last several seasons. Since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, the Predators have picked up 180 home wins and rank...

Predators admit to scoreboard watching in finals games of regular season

The Nashville Predators are in a three-way battle for fourth place in the Western Conference standings with Detroit and Chicago. With fourth place comes home ice advantage during the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Some Predators admit to watching scores from around the Central Division On Tuesday night, Nashville’s 2-1 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild temporarily...

Cyclones’ season over, Chet Pickard assigned to Preds…

With the Cincinnati Cyclones’ ECHL season over, the Nashville Predators have elected to call up goaltender prospect Chet Pickard. Don’t read too much into this move, however. If they wanted to get Pickard playing time, they would have assigned him to the AHL Milwaukee Admirals. Instead, they called him up to the big club so that the 2008 first round pick can work closer with...

Predators Will Play in 4 v 5 Match-Up with Win Over Stars

Dallas Stars 0 vs Nashville Predators 2The Nashville Predators shutout the Dallas Stars in the final regular season game at home. The Predators treat their fans in Fan Appreciation Night. Pekka Rinne played a great game and earned the shutout in his first game back from a virus.The Nashville Predators will be playing in a 4 vs 5 match-up in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup...

Predators take hold of 4th place, jolt the Wild in a shootout 2-1

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mike Strasinger With 4th place on the line over the course of the current week, Nashville knew they couldn’t afford a loss if they wanted to secure home-ice advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs. With Pekka Rinne apparently under the weather per multiple reports, it would be Anders Lindback that would have to navigate the ship for the Predators...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.