ST. LOUIS --
With a point tonight, the Nashville Predators
could become the next team in the League to clinch a playoff berth. Nashville is coming off a 6-1 rout at Chicago on Sunday night and are now 2-1 since getting Alexander Radulov
back from the KHL.
It's pretty telling that a team as successful as the Predators have been this season is going into Game No. 77 still looking to ensure a spot in the postseason.
"That shows the parity throughout the League," defenseman Shea Weber
said. "Ever since the salary cap, it's been tight every year. We know right from the beginning of the year that games at the start of the year might end up costing you when you get to that 70th-75th game -- that might be the one that could have had you up a spot or two."
With a victory tonight, it will also mark a milestone for Predators coach Barry Trotz
Trotz is looking for career victory No. 500, quite a feat for a man who has only known one franchise as his employer.
Winning 500 games is quite a milestone, but Trotz will become just the fifth coach in NHL history, joining Al Arbour
(New York Islanders
), Lindy Ruff
), Billy Reay
) and Toe Blake
) to win 500 with one team.
And that certainly means something.
"There is, and trust me, you can't do it without leadership like (general manager) David (Poile). The next win that we have, David will be the only general manager in the history of the game that won 500 games with two franchises (Nashville and Washington)," Trotz said. "That's pretty elite. You look at things like that -- those are things I'm proud of. There's times when I was younger, he could have said, 'Hey, I've got to go in a different direction.' And he hasn't. Through thick and thin, David's stood by me and believed in what we do."
But Trotz, who's coached in 1,060 games, was not one for reflection for 500 wins in general.
"The only thing I've reflected on is the last game, or last two games really. Zero reflection," he said. "Whether you bring it up or someone else brings it up, it's the only time I reflect.
"It's gone fast. I'm more proud of the fact that we've been consistent as a franchise. I think we're only one of two teams to have 40-plus wins in the last seven years. I'm more proud about that than actually the number of wins because that shows that we've been consistent, a team that is in the mix. Organizationally, as a hockey community we've grown to be a fantastic hockey community. We've grown to we expect to make the playoffs, we expect to be there every year, and we expect to challenge for the Cup. It's the hardest trophy in the world to win. You just want to be in that position to have that opportunity to compete for it."
Added Weber, who's played for Trotz since 2006: "Obviously he's been here for a long time for a reason. He's done a lot of good things. When we're able to get that 500th win, it's going to be something special for him and I'm sure he'll remember it forever."