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Are you an optimist or pessimist?

At this moment, the Nashville Predators sit four points out of a playoff spot. After tonight, they could find themselves sitting all by their lonesome as 13th in the West.

But that’s the pessimist point of view.

The optimist would say the Preds will be a mere three points out of the playoffs with a win over the Boston Bruins tonight.

Whatever scenario you subscribe to, you must admit that it’s getting very close to a now-or-never situation for the Predators. There are only 18 days until the NHL Trade Deadline but probably only eight days until we know whether or not the Preds will be a buyer or a seller on March 4.

Over the next week, the Predators (currently 12th in the West) will face off against the Eastern Conference’s best team (Boston), the Western Conference’s second best team (Detroit) and their inter-conference rival the St. Louis Blues… twice. Throw in an Ottawa Senators team who, while struggling this season, still poses major scoring threats in Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, and you’ve got quite a five-game stretch to get through. Let alone to determine an entire season’s fate.

Throw in a game the following week against the West’s 4th place Chicago Blackhawks and then another game against a team they’re trying to beat out for one of the final playoff spots in the Phoenix Coyotes and it’s readily apparent that the entire Predators season hangs in the balance of one month: February.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. They finish out the month by playing the Red Wings again.

Now, so far, the Preds are 5-2 this month but let’s be honest, they haven’t faced the caliber of teams they’re about to face in the upcoming eight game stretch. Consider this: the record of the teams they earned that 5-2 record against is 195-160-38. The teams they’re facing in the final eight games of the month? 234-150-56.

So here we are, 55 games into the 82 game season and the 12th place Predators have 55 points. Same as Los Angeles. Same as Phoenix. Only two more than St. Louis. And only four more than dead-last Colorado.

But that’s the pessimist point of view.

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