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Playoff Hockey

February 7, 2008

Trotz has said it. The players have said it. The prognosticators have said. I’ve said it. Everyone has said it…this is playoff hockey. The Preds are in the midst of a stretch run that could be one of the most exciting in recent history.

I thought it was put rather well by Carolina Hurricane Cory Stillman in an intermission interview during the Versus broadcast on Tuesday night. He said that their coaching staff has broken the remaining games into seven games series. He even knew that they were 3-2 on ‘this leg’ as he called it. This is a veteran player who has bought into the coaching staffs philosophy…it’s playoff hockey.

I’m not sure what creative ways the Preds coaching staff are using to convey this to the team but they are responding going 7-2-1 in their last 10. Only the Red Wings (8-2) have a better 10 game record among Western Conference teams.

The playoffs continue tonight
as the Preds host the Tampa Bay Lighting at the Sommet Center. The Lighting find themselves in last place in the East with 49 points. that point total, however, puts them only 7 points out of their division lead (currently held by the Capitals) and 10 points out of the number eight spot. The Bolts are 6-4 in their last ten and need to make a serious run if they want to make the playoffs. While their offense can be explosive their goaltending and shaky defense can explode and give up goals in bunches. They have allowed 182 goals this year compared to 145 that the Preds have given up. Goals for is much tighter with the Lighting posting 158 to the Preds 155.

Ellis will get the start tonight: Despite Chris Mason’s stellar performance against the Hurricanes in which he stopped all 38 shots coach Barry Trotz will go with Dan Ellis. Ellis is 5-1-1 in his last seven starts with a 1.68 goals against average, a .946 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. The duo of Mason and Ellis has turned into one of the top tandems in the league over the past month much to everyones surprise.

Coverage on 104.5 The Zone and FSN.

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