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Middle of the pack

David Legwand and Pekka Rinne take to the ice for warmsups prior to a game against the Phoenix Coyotes. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

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David Legwand and Pekka Rinne take to the ice for warmsups prior to a game against the Phoenix Coyotes. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Nashville Predators are truly a team in the middle.

The Preds presently sit fifth in the Western Conference, behind four playoff teams and ahead of three. Nashville is usually viewed as New Jersey west, a team that has to win low-scoring games to survive. While it’s true defense and goaltending tend to be their strong points, the Predators are actually 15th league-wide in both goals for (2.68 per game) and goals against (2.71).

Jason Arnott is battling head issues that could be concussion-related and Nashville’s attack would definitely benefit with him back in the lineup.

The numbers may suggest the Preds place as much emphasis on scoring as goal prevention, but if they’re to do any playoff damage, it will be due to the strength Nashville has from the blueline back. Pekka Rinne has had some hot stretches in the crease and Shea Weber is one heck of an anchor for any defense corps.

And while the Preds have yet to win a post-season series in four playoff ventures, their style of game seems well suited to squeaking out the close games that mark hockey in the spring.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
L10
THE SCOOP
1
Washington Capitals
2
49-15-11
5-2-3
Three of the best four plus-minus ratings in the league belong to Caps and the top nine belong to guys from Washington or Vancouver.
2
San Jose Sharks
9
47-19-10
4-5-1
Fortunes turn around quick with four straight wins, though Joe Thornton is day-to-day with a lower-body injury after playing 398 consecutive contests
3
Phoenix Coyotes
1
47-23-6
8-1-1
Phoenix has posted the first 100-point season in Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets history
4
Detroit Red Wings
6
39-23-13
8-1-1
Does Jimmy Howard have the inside track on the Calder Trophy?
5
Vancouver Canucks
3
45-26-4
5-3-2
In a poll conducted by ESPN Magazine, NHLers anonymously voted Roberto Luongo the league's most overrated player
6
Pittsburgh Penguins
5
44-25-7
4-3-3
Can't seem to decide how bad they want to win the Atlantic Division
7
Chicago Blackhawks
7
46-21-7
3-5-2
Have just two wins in their past eight outings and need to get some positive momentum heading toward the playoffs
8
Nashville Predators
4
43-27-6
7-2-1
Can their tight style translate to the first playoff series victory in franchise history?
9
Buffalo Sabres
8
41-23-10
6-3-1
Would have been awesome to see Tim Connolly play the entire 82-game schedule, but he's out with a lower-body injury right now
10
New Jersey Devils
10
44-26-5
5-3-2
See Penguins
11
Ottawa Senators
19
41-30-5
5-5-0
Brian Elliott is hot again as Sens have won four straight
12
Los Angeles Kings
11
42-26-6
4-4-2
Recent slide means they're only five points up on ninth-place Calgary, so they can't completely fall asleep at the wheel
13
Boston Bruins
16
34-28-12
5-4-1
Hard to blame Marc Savard for having no interest in talking to Matt Cooke
14
Montreal Canadiens
13
37-31-8
6-2-2
Glen Metropolit, who leads the team with 10 power play goals, could be gone for the season with a separated shoulder
15
Atlanta Thrashers
18
33-30-12
5-3-2
Given the way buried teams like playing the spoiler role, maybe it's a good thing still-in-the-hunt Atlanta has five games left against the Devils, Caps and Pens. Or maybe not…
16
Philadelphia Flyers
15
38-32-6
3-5-2
According to sources from within the organization the Flyers will actually go after a true No. 1 goalie this summer
17
Colorado Avalanche
12
41-27-7
4-5-1
Craig Anderson has surrendered at least three goals in his last seven outings as Colorado slips down the standings
18
Calgary Flames
14
38-29-9
5-5-0
Jim Playfair, coach of the Flames' Abbotsford AHL affiliate, demonstrates the proper way to have a complete nuclear meltdown behind (and on) the bench
19
St. Louis Blues
17
36-30-9
6-4-0
Leading scorer Andy McDonald is on pace for just 52 points
20
Dallas Stars
23
33-28-14
4-4-2
Marty Turco and Mike Modano may be playing their last games as Dallas Stars
21
New York Rangers
22
33-32-10
4-4-2
Blowing 2-0 lead versus Leafs on Saturday – in a game where Marian Gaborik got benched – could be the final deathblow
22
Toronto Maple Leafs
25
28-35-13
7-2-1
Jonas Gustavsson's strong finish is encouraging news for next year's crease scene
23
Anaheim Ducks
20
35-31-8
5-4-1
Almost time to start wondering if we'll see Scott Niedermayer in the NHL again after this season
24
Carolina Hurricanes
24
31-35-9
4-4-2
Cam Ward has recovered from a back injury and will start Monday against Atlanta
25
Minnesota Wild
21
36-33-6
5-5-0
Wild are finishing up the season in a black-and-blue state
26
New York Islanders
28
31-34-10
5-3-2
Another lost year for Rick DiPietro, who was officially shut down because of swelling in his knee
27
Columbus Blue Jackets
26
31-32-13
6-2-2
Steve Mason has led Columbus to seven of a possible 10 points in his last five outings after a highly forgettable season
28
Florida Panthers
27
30-33-11
4-5-1
Hopefully David Booth is back healthy as ever to start next season
29
Tampa Bay Lightning
29
30-33-12
3-6-1
Bizarre stat of the day; Steve Downie is plus-15 and nobody else on the Bolts is a plus player
30
Edmonton Oilers
30
24-44-7
3-6-1
Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin is becoming much more of a difficult choice as June draws closer

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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