Preds Fans Allowed to Exhale
It seemed to be a failed road trip and with St. Louis hot on their heels, the Preds faithful seemed to be in panic mode after a shutout loss in Denver. With the team visiting the Penguins, who had already shutout Nashville in their only other encounter this season, there was concern amongst some that the world was ending. The boys in gold (not Pittsburgh) showed up for a Super Bowl Sunday matinee and dispatched the Pens 4-0 to firmly state all is right in the universe…. a universe in which Carter Hutton shutout Crosby, Hornqvist and the rest of the high-octane Penguins offense.
Not only did the victory keep St. Louis two points behind them in the standings, but it also placed Nashville back into the top spot in the NHL with 70 points in 49 games. The team returns home on Tuesday, which marks exactly three weeks since Pekka Rinne went down with his knee injury. Who could’ve predicted they would still be in first place when he returned, let alone the best team in the league? Most fans hoped they would just weather the storm during his absence and they’ve done just that, earning points in 5 of their 7 games (3-2-2).
So when will Rinne return between the pipes? Well, barring any setback, all things point to him starting in goal TOMORROW vs the Leafs! Although we’re unlikely to see another 9-2 massacre in which Taylor Beck looked like Wayne Gretzky (thanks PredsBTI), the Leafs have flopped since naming former Nashville assistant Peter Horachek as their interim head coach.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of a very busy month for Nashville with 10 home games and NO road games against anybody in the western conference. For a team with the best home record in the NHL at 19-2-1, the rest of this month could give the Preds a little breathing room between them and the red hot Blues, who are 10-0-1 in their last 11. The last third of the season began with an impressive victory, now it’s time for some home cooking to distance themselves from the rest of the pack in the west.