Mosh’s Musings- Back to Work
- It could be argued that the All-Star break came at the worst time for the Predators. The team has been playing with a ton of confidence, going 7-1-1 over their last nine games. Although they’ve been getting W’s, they haven’t been dominating by any means. All but one of those matchups were decided by a single goal, with the only other game being extended to two goals with an empty-netter.
- The upcoming schedule also favors Nashville. After Tuesday’s game in Pittsburgh, the Preds play 5 of the next 6 at home before their bye week. They better get whatever rest is available during that time however as they play a grueling 6 games in the 9 days that follow.
- As we move towards the second half of the season, you’ll notice an extra gear by the players. Once you get past the all-star festivities, a switch gets turned on and every game has a playoff feel to it as teams battle for playoff positioning.
- With 33 games remaining, Nashville sits 3 points ahead of St. Louis for 3rd in the Central and 4 points ahead of LA and Vancouver in the chase for a wild card spot. At this juncture, it is still plausible for the Preds to catch Chicago for the important home ice in a potential first round meeting with the Blackhawks. Nashville is 9 points back but have two games in hand, so they are certainly within reach.
- The roster as it stands right now is not likely to be the same when the post-season arrives as plenty of questions remain. When is Roman Josi coming back? Will Kevin Fiala or Pontus Aberg finally be consistent enough to earn full-time roster spots? Is the newly vamped 4th line here to stay? Have we seen the last of Mike Ribeiro? Will David Poile do something at the deadline?
- Ah.. the wizardry of David Poile. Last season he avoided the trade deadline scramble and acquired Ryan Johansen in January. In 2015, he gambled, and some believe ruined the locker room chemistry by taking on Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli. 2014 saw the trading of David Legwand for then minor-leaguer, and current Mr. everything, Calle Jarnkrok. In 2013 I seem to recall something that came through the fax just minutes before the deadline… disgruntled Martin Erat wanted out and we got some 18-yr old kid that the Caps gave up on. I’m sure he turned out to be a bust.
- I don’t think Poile will pull anything major as long as the team continues to play up to its potential as it has been of late. However, should the team hit some more speed bumps, I could see him going for the jugular and attempting to cherry-pick from Colorado and Arizona. Something to consider is the impact any roster moves will make on the expansion draft in the summer. It’s really easy to think about trading Colin Wilson or Craig Smith due to underperformance, but doing so also opens up the likelihood of losing someone like Jarnkrok who has a very cap-friendly contract. So unless we’re talking about getting Duchene, I don’t suspect anything major involving current roster players.
- That being said, if the team finally gets completely healthy, don’t be surprised to see Ribeiro placed on waivers. He’s in the final year of his contract and likely is probably finishing up his career. Who knows?… Maybe Poile finds a way to move him if he can acquire an asset… or a case of beer. Yeah I know he’s second on the team in assists and has 3 in his last 4 games, but Laviolette is giving playing time to guys with more energy and work ethic. Needless to say, Ribeiro doesn’t fit that mold.
This team had high expectations entering the season and are just now beginning to look like the franchise that was supposed to contend for a Stanley Cup. We’ve seen many ups and downs already, but buckle up for a frantic stretch of hockey to come. The boys in gold are making their move.