By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators host the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena, but then will play only road games for the next two weeks. In fact, the Predators play 10 of their next 13 games on the road.
The Predators are coming off huge back to back wins over the weekend against the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The wins were important because the Predators lost three straight games in overtime after having gone 3-0-0 to start the season.
The only team without a regulation loss in the entire league, Nashville has been playing solid hockey, despite injuries to key players. Matthew Lombardi, the Predators highly touted off-season signing, has not played since Nashville’s second game of the season when he suffered a concussion in Chicago. Lombardi is now listed as week to week instead of day to day. Marcel Goc is out with a separated shoulder and will miss at least the next two games. Ryan Suter, listed as having a lower body injury, is also out of the lineup and will also miss at least the next two games. These two games are against Central Division opponents, St. Louis and Detroit.
Despite the injuries, the Predators keep stepping up their game, but have had a hard time hanging on to leads in the third period. Predators defenseman Cody Franson thinks that Nashville’s record could even be better than it is, a league leading 5-0-3. “All three of those games are games we felt that we could have or should have possibly won. When you lose three in overtime the same way it’s pretty aggravating to say the least. We are going to have to try to take the positives out of this and push through it,” he said.
Nashville relinquished a 2-0 lead in the third period against the Washington Capitals, only to lose 3-2 in overtime, then lost 1-0 in overtime to the Calgary Flames. Finally, the Predators gave up a 3-2 lead in the third period to the Pittsburgh Penguins, losing 4-3. Another overtime score. Incidentally, Nashville also had a 4-1 lead on Sunday late in the third period only to see Tampa Bay score two goals within a minute to make it a 4-3 game.
Despite the overtime losses, Nashville still accumulated 9 out of a possible 12 points. “That’s a decent start,” Franson said, “but the good teams, they don’t accept that. They keep trying to push for more. When they get good they get greedy. That’s what we have to start doing. We are like that it’s just that we fell short the last couple games.”
Winning in Dallas was huge for the Predators confidence. The win was against a tough opponent in a building where the Predators traditionally have had a problem finding success. Before Saturday night, Nashville had played 22 games in Dallas and won only 5 of them, posting a 5-16-1 record.
After Saturday’s game, Captain Shea Weber commented on the possibility that going on the road would actually do some good for the team, “The past little while we haven’t been able to close out games, especially at home and that’s not good. We are away from home now, hopefully we can get on a roll and start winning some games.”
Winning is exactly what the team continued to do the next day. After the Dallas game the team flew to Tampa Bay, arriving at 3 a.m. ET. At 6 p.m. the Predators hit the ice against the Lightning, a mere 15 hours after arriving in town. Despite the short turnover in time, after allowing the first goal of the game, Nashville went on to score the next four goals to take a 4-1 lead. The Predators won that game to improve their record to where it stands today at 5-0-3.
Talk about putting your money where your mouth is, Franson wanted the team to push for more, to get greedy in accumulating points. That’s exactly what Franson did on Sunday when he scored a beautiful goal that many, including NHL.com would call Orr-esque. With only two minutes left to play in the second period of the Predators game against Tampa Bay, Jordin Tootoo passed the puck to David Legwand who had a solid head’s up play seeing Franson unprotected by the Lightning’s defense. When Franson got the puck he was able to walk in all alone on former Predators goalie Dan Ellis, deke him, and score his second goal of the season.
Check out the video of the goal here:
Even with the injuries to the Predators squad, expectations for the team continue to soar as they find way to win games, or at least collect points in all their games. In the coming weeks, however, Nashville’s schedule gets no easier with upcoming games against Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, and two games against the red hot Blues, including Thursday’s bout. Game time starts at 7 pm CT at Bridgestone Arena. Tickets are still available. The next home game will not be until the Chicago Blackhawks come to town on November 13th.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount. Predators upcoming home games Thursday night when the St. Louis Blues make their second trip to Smashville this season.