The Nashville Predators did not have a good night last night.

Though they didn’t play a game, the St. Louis Blues and the Winnipeg Jets did. And both teams came away with two points. The Blues beat the Avalanche in a shootout and the Jets beat the Blackhawks in overtime.

This was the worst case scenario for the Predators last night. Because of this, the Blues have the tie breaker over the Preds (due to having more regulation and overtime wins) and the Central division standings look like this:

  1. Winnipeg – 96 points
  2. St. Louis – 94 points
  3. Nashville – 94 points
  4. Dallas – 89 points
  5. Colorado – 86 points
  6. Minnesota – 81 points
  7. Chicago – 80 points

Astonishingly, all seven of these teams are still alive in the playoff race. Winnipeg, St. Louis, and Nashville have all clinched. Dallas is on the verge of clinching. And Colorado, Minnesota and Chicago are all fighting for the final wildcard spot.

But here’s the problem for the Predators. With St. Louis’s win, the Predators are now bumped down to 3rd place, which is a position they haven’t been in since October 10th.

While that’s a remarkable run for the Preds, it’s ending at probably the worst possible time. Holding the same top position in the division all season and then losing it at the very end? That does not bode well for your postseason hopes.

And speaking of postseason hopes, the Predators are now facing a much more difficult climb because they’ve slipped in the standings.

What This Means For The Playoffs

According to Sports Club Stats, the Predators are now more likely than not to finish in 3rd place. Their chances at 3rd place are 52%, while their chances at 2nd place are 35%. Their chances at winning the division are only 13%.

Why does this matter? Playoff seeding.

The Predators, should they finish in 3rd place, will have lost home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. And if they do advance past the 1st round, they will likely have lost home ice advantage in the 2nd round.

Say what you will about the importance of home ice (last year the Preds went 3-4 at home in the playoffs) it’s still an advantage. And in the playoffs, you look for every advantage you can get. The Preds may have just lost one of their biggest assets in the Bridgestone Arena crowd.

But the biggest issue here is who the Predators will likely have to face in those first two rounds: the St. Louis Blues and the Winnipeg Jets. I wrote several weeks ago about how the Blues were the bigger worry, and now the Preds would have to win that series on the road.

However, the Blues could actually end up winning the division, which would mean a matchup with the Jets in the first round. We all saw how that went for the Predators last year. The Jets seem to have the Predators number in the last year. And that series would not only be difficult, it would be lengthy.

Given this, the Predators’ latest trends, combined with last night’s results, suggests a much more difficult road in the playoffs. But they still have a chance to reclaim a better position in the division,

The Predators do have the favorable remaining schedule, with likely only one opponent left on the schedule who is fighting for the playoffs. And by the time they face Chicago, they might be out of the race.

If the Predators are going to escape this unfavorable 3rd place position, they will certainly need to come away with two points in each of their last three games.

— Featured image via Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports —
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