The least talked-about team in the NHL over the past few weeks is also the league's hottest. And they're making the defending champions sweat a little.
Nobody has been on a tear quite like the one the Nashville Predators are on right now. Since Feb. 12, the Predators have been the best team in the league with a 39-12-3 record and 40 points. They continued it with an utterly dominant game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Seriously, at one point the Blue Jackets looked so bad it seemed like they were even failing at tanking.
♫ When you tank your best but you don't succeed ♫ pic.twitter.com/bTXDOTwCQ1— SB Nation NHL (@SBNationNHL) March 27, 2016
That kind of offensive maelstrom is incredibly un-Predators. This is the franchise that couldn't buy goals even though they had the best defense in the league. But that's changed. They have two 30-goal scorers in James Neal and Filip Forsberg (the only other team to boast that are the Stars with the Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin super-duo). Roman Josi just tied Shea Weber for most points by a Preds' defenseman in a season with 56, giving them two offensive threats from the blueline. And Ryan Johansen was a shrewd offensive pickup that has paid off handsomely.
It's no wonder they've gone on such a run. And they're coming for the Blackhawks, who've had a miserable month of March and now sit on the cusp of the Wild Card race. That's bad news for everyone in the Western Conference; the thought of the Nashville Predators in the playoffs is nightmare fuel.
Wild 4, Avalanche 0
Stars 4, Sharks 2
Predators 5, Blue Jackets 1
Blackhawks 4, Flames 1
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3 things we learned
1. Zach Parise is willing the Wild to the playoffs
Zach Parise is having himself a moment. A few nights ago, the veteran winger netted a hat trick and gave the Wild the edge they needed to push past the Avalanche in the Wild Card race. And when Minnesota faced down their biggest competition on Saturday, Parise answered the call again with two more goals. He's the heart and soul of that team, and Minnesota is feeding off him all the way to the postseason.
2. Nobody wants the Eastern Conference Wild Card spots
That's the conclusion I'm coming to after another night with a team blowing a huge opportunity. A few nights ago, it was the Red Wings losing when the Flyers hadn't. It was apparently the Flyers' turn on Saturday. Detroit played their worst hockey of the season in a 7-2 loss in Pittsburgh, leaving the door wide open for the Flyers to pull two points ahead of them in the playoff race. Instead, they laid an egg in Arizona. I give up. Give the playoff spot to the Devils. At least they work hard for it.
3. The Predators have embraced heart disease
No, really. Look at this 9.6 POUND BURGER they made.
If we're going by strict definition here, the abrupt end of North Dakota player Drake Caggiula's goal celebration had the biggest impact.
UND's Drake Caggiula scores on his own rebound, gets leveled by the referee on a hip check pic.twitter.com/0DIls5wLNi— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) March 26, 2016
Stat of the Night
#Preds will improve to 19-1-4 this season when James Neal scores a goal.— Jeremy K. Gover (@govertime) March 27, 2016