Predators need to be better than ever down the stretch to make the playoffs

The Nashville Predators began the final third of the season with Friday’s come-from-behind victory over the New Jersey Devils and then got a point the next night at St. Louis.

That’s a good start. It’s also not unusual.

Discounting last year’s lockout-abbreviated campaign, since 2005-06 the Predators have played well over the last 27 games. They have won more than they have lost each time and have averaged as much as 1.33 points per game.

CLOSING STRETCH
A look at the Nashville Predators’ record for the final 27 games of the season from 2005-06 through 2011-12:

2005-06: 16-9-2, 34 points
2006-07: 14-8-5, 33 points
2007-08: 13-11-3, 29 points
2008-09: 14-8-5, 33 points
2009-10: 17-8-2, 36 points
2010-11: 15-8-4, 34 points
2011-12: 16-8-3, 35 points

As good as they typically are at this time of year, though, they’re going to have to be even better if they want to return to the 2014 NHL playoffs.

Nashville averaged 33.4 points over the final 27 games of those seven seasons. If they hit that mark this time, they will finish with 90 points, a respectable number to be sure but not likely enough to finish among the Western Conference’s top eight.

In the last three 82-game seasons, it took at least 95 points to make it out of the West. Twice since 2005-06 a team made it with 91, including the Predators in 2007-08, but no team has made it with a few as 90.

"We are a good character team, and in here, we believe in each other," captain Shea Weber said Friday. "We just have to find a way, and that is what we are sticking to right now."