"These Preds just won't go away."
That has to be the thought going through many a player and GM in this league right now. The team that many had left for dead before the season started finds themselves sitting in 6th place right now with 21 games to go. Yes, I know that is a lot of hockey left but no one thought we'd be here.
Why Are We Here? For me it goes back to the play of one guy...Dan Ellis. Think back to early in the year...are you there yet? Mason started red hot and even won player of the week honors early in the year. All Pred fans were saying 'Tomas who?' Then all of a sudden Mason couldn't stop a 12 mph wrister from Great Aunt Chris Chelios. It was bad. He was bad. All hope was lost. Enter Dan Ellis the $500k free agent signee that came in and pulled the fat out of the fire. His play inspired the team up front and helped snap out 6 game losing streak. his incredible play has not stopped there and he has become the unsung hero of this team. I think Radulov might be that player for us in the future and he has shown flashes of his game changing ability but he isn't that guy game in and game out.
Why Are We Here #2? A potent top line. The guys on Versus called the Arnott, Dumont, Radulov line one of the most potent in the NHL. This is a line that can make things happen. These guys have built some incredible chemistry this year and it has paid off big time.
What We Need: While I am thrilled with where we are I am still not convinced that this is a team that can go too far in the playoffs. I am confident that our goaltending will keep us in most games but our lack of depth up front has me worried. I think that we are missing that one guy who can break a game open by himself. Watching Marion Gaborik last night I realized that we do not have that player. I understand that many teams don't ahve that player but many of the top ones do. Look at Detroit with Datsyuk, Ottawa with Heatly, San Jose with Thornton , Calgary with Iginla, Pittsburgh with Crosby and Malkin and yes even St. Louis with PK. We have a ton of great role players but now dominant players that can take control of a game.
Three Out Of Four...Ain't Bad: We got three out of four points this weekend which is pretty good if you ask me. Two points against a goalie that nearly robbed us of any points at all and a gutsy comeback last night to force OT against a very good Wild team at home.
If The Playoffs Started Today: We would be the six seed against Minnesota as the three seed. Now that would be one heck of a series.