Barry Trotz has 323 wins as head coach of the Nashville Predators since 1998-99. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
• Given all the bad luck the Nashville Predators franchise has endured over the past year or so, it was nice to see the team get smiled on by the hockey gods in their come-from-behind, 4-3 win over St. Louis Tuesday.
It sure didn’t look good for the Preds in the first period, when goalie Dan Ellis was pulled from Nashville’s net after allowing three weak goals. But that’s when the tables turned. Chris Mason was perfect in relief of Ellis, and after Vernon Fiddler scored to tie the game in the third, the Blues had a Jay McKee goal disallowed due to goalie interference.
Then, with the momentum squarely on their side, the Predators got an overtime goal from little-known American Leaguer Rich Peverley to claim victory and a tenuous hold on the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.
There’s no guarantee Nashville will be able to hold off Vancouver for the eighth seed, but you’ve got to give credit to coach Barry Trotz and the entire Preds organization for gutting it out during a year that had “painful collapse” written all over it.
• On another positive note, the return of Teppo Numminen to the Buffalo Sabres’ active roster provides at least one feel-good story for a town that’s had very little to glow over this season.
Unfortunately, Numminen’s comeback also underscores the awful way in which Buffalo ownership and management chose to deal with the severe heart condition that sidelined the veteran defenseman for the entire 2007-08 campaign.
In suspending Numminen without pay for a long-term ailment the team couldn’t help but have some knowledge of when it signed him, the Sabres made money an issue in a season in which - among many fans - the team’s finances seem to be the chief focus.
It was a bush-league move when they refused to pay him, and it’s still a bush-league move now that he’s back. Numminen will turn 40 years old in July, but if he chooses to play again next year, nobody should fault him if he chooses to play elsewhere.
Adam Proteau is The Hockey News' online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays and Fridays, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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