Preds Quick Hits From The Crease 3-28-16
Unlike Thursday, the Preds were ready to play from the opening face-off and dispatched the Blue Jackets 5-1 on Saturday. It was Seth Jones’ first game back at Bridgestone Arena since being traded away two months ago for Ryan Johansen. Nashville thanked Jones for his service with a video tribute during the first TV timeout and Jones saluted the crowd for their standing ovation. It’s probably a good thing they got that formality out of the way early because I think Columbus coach John Tortorella may have sent him to the locker room if it happened later.
The Preds dominated from start to finish, peppering rookie netminder Joonas Korpisalo with 48 shots, 20 of them in the first 12 minutes of the game. Roman Josi continued his Norris Trophy worthy season tallying three assists and breaking Kimmo Timonen’s club record for assists by a D-man in a season. James Neal was the first to light the lamp Saturday night, bringing him to 30 goals and making sure he and Forsberg became only the second duo in Preds history to hit that mark in the same year.
Tonight, Nashville has a chance to officially clinch a playoff spot when they take on a swooning Colorado team. The Avs got beat by Minnesota in front of their home fans Saturday 4-0, all but sealing their fate to miss the postseason for a second straight season. They sit 5 points behind the Wild, but every game remaining is against a team currently in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Chicago traveled to Calgary and Vancouver over the weekend and came away with the full compliment of 4 points. When the Preds left the ice just two nights ago, they were in a virtual tie with the Blackhawks for third place in the Central. It now seems more likely that Chicago will hold on to that position as time is running out. Because of the ROW tiebreaker, Nashville would have to finish with more points than Chicago to place above them.
What to Watch For: The rest of the meaningful teams in the division have the night off. However, for a local connection, Barry Trotz and the Washington Capitals have a chance to clinch the President’s Trophy tonight when they face those same Blue Jackets we saw Saturday. Congratulations to coach Trotz for a phenomenal regular season.