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Duchene confident Predators can make playoffs with current roster

Center says he doesn't believe changes are necessary before NHL Trade Deadline

by NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Matt Duchene said he doesn't think the Nashville Predators need to make a move before the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 24 in order to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We love our group in here. I think everyone is happy with the talent we have, and it's time to start playing the way we're capable of," the Predators center said Monday prior to their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Bridgestone Arena (8 p.m. ET; TVAS, FS-TN, TSN4, NHL.TV). "I don't think we're really missing anything in this room. We're not looking at [the trade deadline] right now. We're looking at the task at hand, and this is our group." 

Nashville (22-18-7) is six points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. The Predators have played five fewer games than the Golden Knights, and there are three teams between them and Vegas. 

"You look at us right now. You know it looks bad on paper, but with the games in hand we have, we have a great opportunity to put a little streak together here," Duchene said. 

The Predators, who have qualified for the playoffs in each of the past five seasons, are 3-3-0 since Peter Laviolette was fired as coach and replaced by John Hynes on Jan. 6. They are 10-8-2 in their past 20 games and have not won more than two in a row over that span. Nashville's longest winning streak this season is four (Oct. 22-29); its longest without a win is six (0-5-1) from Nov. 7-21. 

Video: Nashville struggles to find wins under new coach

"We're in this position because we had a pretty tough stretch at one point … and that put us where we are. Other than that, it's been pretty steady," Duchene said. "It probably feels a lot worse than it is, but it's time to buck up and start playing the type of games we're capable of."

Duchene, who signed a seven-year, $56 million contract with Predators on July 1, has 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists) in 44 games. He has eight points (two goals, six assists) in his past 10 games and is looking for more consistency in his game. 

"It's been up and down a little bit. Just different periods of time I felt really comfortable and periods of time where I'm faced with some kind of variable that comes with a new team," said Duchene, who is on his fourth team since the start of the 2017-18 season, having played for the Colorado Avalanche, Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets before signing with Nashville. "But at this point, none of that matters. It's about playing your best hockey and doing whatever it takes to get wins and help the team win, and I'm looking forward to these last 35 (games)."

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