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Preds riding the Varlamov train

It is already mid-season in Nashville, with the Predators having played 42 games already. While the team was barely keeping in the playoffs race at the 20 games mark, the return of star goaltender Semyon Varlamov has seen the Predators surge to the top of the west.

While it it satisfying that the team stands at the top, it is barely two points ahead of mighty St.Louis Blues who have four games in hand.

The whole team has played well in the second quarter of the season yet the play of goaltender Varlamov has really stood out. Compiling 18 wins through 25 games, with a .923 sv% and a 1.89 avg, Varlamov leads the league in both categories.

The offense has continued to be spread around but a few slow starters have turned their game around. Simmonds has continued to hit everything in sight every game, but he has produced a much more decent 15 points in his last 21 games compared to just 4 points through the first 21 games of the season. Chris Higgins is another one who turned up his game a notch in the last stretch. Brassard has continued to surprise and is currently leading the team in points. Overall, the Predators scoring is spread through its lines but starts from the defense.

The defense has been Nashville's greatest asset so far. They have contributed tremendously both offensively and defensively. Two of the top three team's scorers are defensemen. Justin Faulk has played even better during the 2nd stretch, posting close to a point per game in his last 21 games. Newly acquired Mark Streit has been seeing the score sheet regularly as well, sitting third in scoring on the team while contributing 12 assists in his first 13 games as a Predator. McDonagh, Alzner and Stoner are all on their way to 25-35 points seasons while being cornerstones on defense.

GM Tremblay has been pleased with the performance in the second quarter, where the team improved on the PP and PK which was a glaring weakness after 21 games: "While most of the credit goes to Varlamov, I think the coaching and the players have done an amazing job at improving the special units. Hopefully for the fans, the team can stay healthy and keep on rolling to provide an entertaining second half of the season."