It took until the middle of February, but the rest of the NHL is finally terrified of what the Preds are about to do. Two wins in two days over the St. Louis Blues have Nashville right where it needs to be heading into the final 24 games of the season.
The Predators sit just one point back of both Wild Card teams with two games in hand over Calgary and three over Arizona. But more important than the standings is the fact that Nashville is finally just playing good hockey. These two wins over St. Louis were probably the best back-to-back performances this team has put together all season — and came when it so desperately needed them. And oh by the way, these two wins come on the heels of a 5-0 win over the New York Islanders.
It looks like everybody is finally settling in and getting comfortable with the things John Hynes wants to do and they sure seem to be working. The Preds have been one of the best 5-on-5 teams all season, but special teams have plagued them tremendously. While Nashville's power play is still not where it needs to be, the Preds killed five of six penalties in these two games against the Blues. If the Predators can find a way to improve their league-worst 74 percent penalty kill to even just middle of the pack, this team is going to be very dangerous heading into the playoffs.
The most encouraging sign of late, however, is the goaltending. Juuse Saros is looking like a solid starter and Pekka Rinne is at least getting back to competitive form to be able to keep the Preds in games. Nashville's offense is going to do its thing most nights. The Preds don't need spectacular goaltending, just enough to keep games within striking distance.
It's just so refreshing to see this team do what it's capable of doing. Nobody is asking for anything unrealistic. Just play to the best of your ability — and it sure looks like Hynes may be well on the way to making that happen.
We're still not where we need to be. Let's keep it rolling.