Nashville Predators Prospect Report: April 12

Thursday, 04.12.2012 / 9:37 PM CT / Features
By Doug Brumley  - Nashville Predators
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Nashville Predators Prospect Report: April 12
The Milwaukee Admirals have made an impressive push toward securing a spot in the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Playoffs. The Nashville Predators’ top minor-league affiliate has won four of its last five games and, entering Friday’s action, sits in sixth in the Western Conference. As in the NHL, the top eight teams in each conference qualify for post-season play.

With three games remaining on Milwaukee’s regular season schedule, it’s going to be a tight finish. As of Thursday, just two points separated the fifth and eleventh spots. Thanks to tiebreakers and games in hand, the Admirals sit atop a group of five teams tied with 82 points. Milwaukee plays games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and can clinch a spot in the playoffs if it earns four points in the standings. It is possible to clinch sooner though—as soon as Friday—through a combination of its own regulation win and losses by other teams.

Chris Mueller, Kyle Wilson and Ryan Flynn each chipped in three goals during the past five matches. Mueller, who leads the club in scoring, broke the 30-goal plateau—the first Admiral to do so since Rich Peverley in 2006-07—and now stands at 31 for the season.

For four days this week, goaltender Jeremy Smith was in Nashville on a recall assignment from the Predators’ minor-league affiliate. Smith, who ranks second in the AHL in wins this season, took turns in the Nashville nets during practices to help rest Predators starter Pekka Rinne a bit heading into the NHL playoffs.

On Tuesday, hours before the Admirals had a four-game win streak snapped in San Antonio, Smith shared his thoughts on what has keyed the Admirals’ late charge. “I think we’ve played a very well-rounded game,” he said. “We’ve scored goals. Our offense is clicking. We’re blocking shots. We’re sacrificing. We’re doing what it takes to win the games—the details. So we’ve put a good little run together but hopefully we can continue to find success.”

Smith, who turns 23 on Friday, also talked about the effect of losing forward Juuso Puustinen for the remainder of the season after the Finnish prospect suffered a broken kneecap during an Admirals game in March. Puustinen (16 goals, 16 assists in 55 games) remains the sixth leading scorer on Milwaukee’s roster, and would have certainly been a helpful asset to have in the team’s quest to lock in a playoff spot.

“It’s unfortunate when a guy gets hurt,” Smith said. “It definitely is. It’s not fun to see a teammate and a good friend, to see him get injured and his season come to an end. But it’s not always the case where it’s like, ‘Oh, let’s throw in the towel.’ I think it’s more of an opportunity for guys to step up and grasp the challenge and thrive in the opportunity that they’re given. So maybe younger guys have the opportunity to step up and score big goals for us.”

As for Smith himself, he tried to soak in all he could during his brief time in Nashville.

“I think it’s good for me to get up here and see what it takes to prepare for an NHL series and the NHL playoffs,” he said. “I think it’s always good to get a call-up and get acclimated to the speed. I think this is just another good step toward becoming a full-time NHL goalie.”

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 26 37 15 63
M. Ribeiro 82 15 47 11 62
R. Josi 81 15 40 15 55
S. Weber 78 15 30 15 45
C. Smith 82 23 21 11 44
C. Wilson 77 20 22 19 42
M. Fisher 59 19 20 4 39
J. Neal 67 23 14 12 37
R. Ellis 58 9 18 8 27
S. Jones 82 8 19 3 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 41 17 6 .923 2.18
C. Hutton 6 7 4 .902 2.61