The Nashville Predators finally picked up two points in a game with a 3-1 win last night in Minnesota. The big storyline that everybody was talking about was blah blah something something Ryan Suter. Old news. Now that the team has reminded their old buddy of what he missed out on when he opted for life in a northern town, it’s time to turn to the next big storyline of the Preds’ season: the early road trip.
Looking at the Nashville Predators’ schedule when it was originally released, it was immediately clear that the early road trip was going to have a huge impact on how their season plays out. At seven games in length, it’s longer than most of the trips the team takes during most 82-game seasons; last year’s longest was five games, and the longest in 2010-11 was six games. It’s not just that there are more games on this trip, though. It’s how closely they’re packed together in the schedule.
Those six games Nashville played in a row in 2010-11 spanned the course of 13 days, or one game every 2.16 days. This trip will average one game every 1.85 days. Doesn’t sound like a lot, maybe, but it’s a difference of nearly eight hours of rest between each game. By the end of the trip that can add up. The team is relatively young, which in theory will help, but a lot of work is a lot of work no matter what your age.
Besides the physical toll on the team, its standing in the Central Division a quarter of the way through the season would be determined by this trip. A losing streak on the road could leave the team in an early hole, most likely desperate to climb out for the rest of the shortened season. A winning streak could give the Preds important points outside the Central before it turns to face those teams nine times in April. And just managing to break even would at least keep the team in contention until they get their feet under them and the rust completely shaken off.
By picking up a win in the first game against Minnesota, the very least the team has done is to get a start on breaking even. It’s just a start, though. As if being on the road weren’t enough, none of the games look like easy wins on paper. Nashville faces St. Louis again on Thursday night, with all the threats that team has on offense and in goal, and then again at the end of the trip. Teemu Selanne and the Ducks have been flying high. Last year’s playoff enemies, the Phoenix Coyotes, have had a porous defense but have been piling on the goals. The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, though they’ve looked weak so far, have a lot of weapons and will be dangerous when they finally wake up. And the big, old Sharks have shown they’re still capable of lighting the lamp even without Scott Gomez having become his comeback tour at HP Pavilion just yet.
The Nashville Predators team that beat Minnesota last night looked much more like the team of the last two years than the team of this season’s first two games. I’m hoping that bodes well for the rest of this road trip. How do you think the Preds will perform on their seven-game journey west?
How many points will Nashville earn on its seven-game road trip?
- 7-9 (63%, 10 Votes)
- 10-14 (25%, 4 Votes)
- 4-6 (13%, 2 Votes)
- 0-3 (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 16