Predators starting to grab the bull by the horns, now to face the Sabres
by Jackson Walsh
After two thrilling wins on home ice, the Predators will end their last homestand of the season, and second to last home game overall, against the Buffalo Sabres.
It was not too long ago that the Predators took a plane to Buffalo and tore up the Sabres 4-0 on March 19. However, the big story out of Buffalo is their struggles with goaltending. The last time the Predators faced the Sabres, they faced Linus Ullmark. Ullmark is day-to-day with a concussion, reportedly taking a rough shot to the head during practice.
The man expected to suit up in his place is the new guy from the Rochester Americans, Adam Wilcox. Wilcox has been a solid goaltender for the “Amerks”, an 11-7-7 record with a .903 save percentage. But as we know, this will be a whole ‘nother ball game for the young man.
He’s never played an NHL game. Ever. He’s only gotten to play in the AHL. How amazing for him, his first opportunity to play in the NHL as a guest in Smashville. The Predators are gonna want to make him rethink a longer professional career, but the one thing with young goaltenders is they can either be privy to mistakes or they can have an unbelievably hot game.
The Predators were ice cold for a little while, but seem to be playing in rhythm and not just because they’ve been winning. One area that was a glaring stat in last Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Minnesota was an incredibly low shot count. Only 20 shots the entire game.
They improved to 36 shots against Winnipeg, 29 shots against Minnesota again Tuesday, and 32 shots against San Jose. It seems to be an insignificant stat, because shots don’t always equal goals and wins, but the shot count is indicative of the amount of puck possession and chances the offense might have. The Predators have been doing well over the past few games of pressuring the goaltender, even if it means hitting the post over and over and the crazy thing is that shots that go “off the pipe” don’t even count as shots on goal.
Typically, that’s something Nashville does really well, but during the slump it was a weakness. Against the upstart goaltender, the key to the game is just to get an early lead and keep it. The Sabres are a somewhat demoralized team, there’s no reason for them to play spoiler.
The magic number for the Predators to clinch the Central Division is four. Meaning they could win the division tonight if the Jets lose in regulation at Toronto. The 50-16-11 Predators are in great shape right now heading into the last five games of the season.