Nashville Predators (37-32-12) at Minnesota Wild (43-26-12)
|Date & Time||Sunday April 13, 2014, 8:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Minnesota Wild -155 / Nashville Predators +141 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The Nashville Predators won't be heading to the post season this year but they'll look to end their season on a good note when they take on the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Nashville has won five of their last six games and Saturday night's come back victory over the Chicago Blackhawks was a thriller. It's hard to imagine a Barry Trotz coached team rallying with five goals in the third to defeat a club 7-5, but that's exactly what happened in this one. Trailing 3-2 heading to the third period it was Matt Cullen who got the first Predators goal of the period just over four minutes in to tie the game 3-3. Nashville would take the lead just over three minutes later on Colin Wilson's 11th goal of the year. Chicago would tie the game less than a minute later and things would settle down between the clubs until an absolutely wild final three minutes. Paul Gaustad's 10th of the season at 17:05 of the third period looked like it would be the game winner but Andrew Shaw answered at 18:25 to make it a 5-5 game. At 19:01 it was Patric Hornqvist scoring his 22nd of the year to give the Predators the lead for good, and Shea Weber would finish things with an empty net goal. It was about as wild a game as you're going to see the Predators play but since they've been eliminated they've really been playing free and loose. Nashville still continues to have the same problems with not being able to acquire high end offensive talent, and that's something that has to change heading into next season if they want to compete with a lot of the powerhouses in the Western Conference. Nashville has beaten some very good teams during this stretch, with wins over the Blackhawks, Sharks, Ducks, and Coyotes. If we know anything about a Trotz coached team it's that they aren't going to be looking toward the golf course prematurely. Expect a solid effort from the Predators in this one despite having played last night and having to travel to Minnesota.
For the Minnesota Wild they're still waiting to see who they'll be playing in the first round of the post season this year. With some of the other match ups in the league set there's still no resoultion as to whether the Wild wil take on the Colorado Avalanche or St. Louis Blues in the first round. Minnesota has been dominated by the Avalanche all season long and though one could say their playoff experience could be a huge difference in a series like that, it might be more beneficial for the Wild to take on another low scoring team like the St. Louis Blues. Factor in that St. Louis has struggled immensely of late and are battling injuries to so many key pieces and that might be a better situation for them. Minnesota is getting hot at the right time, having won four straight games heading into the season finale on Sunday. It really is incredible the season that this hockey club has put together when you consider the different goaltending issues they've had to deal with all year long. Zach Parise is going to be a big key in any playoff round and the Wild need him to lead the way and score timely goals if they're going to advance past either opponent in the opening round. The Western Conference playoffs are always wars of attritution and it's yet to be seen if this group of Wild players has the makeup to survive something like that. Sunday shouldn't be looked at as a meaningless game but instead an opportunity for this club to really set a tone heading into next weeks Game 1.
Both these teams are playing really good hockey right now but only one of them is heading to the post season. The odds are heavily favored in Minnesota's direction in this one and while that's understandable I think it might be a little hard for them to get up for this one when they've got a war looming with either St. Louis or Colorado.