When you don’t have anything left to play for, you don’t have anything to lose.
That philosophy means the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks could be the most dangerous teams the Nashville Predators face this season.
Thursday night at 7 at the Sommet Center the Predators play their last home regular season game against the Blues. They close out the regular season on the road Friday night against the Blackhawks.
The Predators came up with a huge 4-3 overtime win on Tuesday at St. Louis after trailing 3-0 in the first period. Rich Peverley scored the game-winner in overtime and Nashville vaulted into the eighth and final playoff spot for the time being. The Preds were aided by the fact that Edmonton and Vancouver lost on Tuesday night. Jordin Tootoo and Brandon Bochenski each had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who won for the fourth time in five games.
But that means Nashville has to be extra wary of St. Louis and Chicago in the next few days.
“Whatever we have to do to win is what we have to do,” said Predators associate coach Brent Peterson. “We are playing against teams that are loose and out of it. We have to make sure we are at our best. If you don’t bring your best you aren’t going to win in this league.
“When you play loose and have nothing to play for, you sometimes play better. Teams like that take chances that work. They are going to do everything they can to stop us. Guys who are playing for something are going to be a little more uptight and more cautious.”
The Predators have been known this season for their resiliency and their ability to not be a passenger on an emotional roller-coaster.
“We have to find a happy medium of being intense but not uptight,” Peterson said. “Repetition and the number of games we have played that have meant something has helped us.
“We know how it feels. We know how to play. We have been in this situation enough in the last month that we can continue to be at our best and not be uptight.”
Heading into Tuesday night’s game in St. Louis the penalty kill had stopped 17 power-play attempts in a row. Peterson points to goaltender Dan Ellis. Ellis had been playing well, but was taken out of Tuesday night's game after giving up three quick goals.
“Everybody has stepped up and been desperate,” Peterson said. “Power plays are a big part of the offense of other teams. We have to be disciplined and try not to take penalties. But we have to find a way to kill them when we do.”
The defense has been solid of late, but the Predators still are looking for offense, especially beyond center Jason Arnott and right winger J.P. Dumont.
“We are giving players like Jan Hlavac and Radek Bonk lots of ice time,” Peterson said. “They have to find a way to score more. They are doing OK but we need all the scoring we can get.
“We need people other than Arnott and Dumont to also step up and give us a big goal here and there. Everybody is playing pretty hard. They are all trying. It is a good league and we are playing against good teams.”
FOUNDATION AWARDS: The Predators Foundation will present a record number of grants totaling more than $250,000 to 113 area charitable and community service organizations Wednesday at
the Sommet Center.
Between the total and other charitable donations, such as player ticket
programs, collection and disaster relief, the Foundation put more than $485,000 back into the
community during the 2007-08 season.