I noticed something funny about the first three Nashville Predators games of the season today: the team that scored first lost all three.
There’s not much you can really project about a team three games into the season, so I’m definitely not suggesting that there’s anything to be worried about just yet. But history suggests that if the Nashville Predators are once again a winning team, they’ll spend most of the 2013 NHL season scoring first.
Here’s a look at how the Predators have fared since the last lockout when they score first:
|NASHVILLE PREDATORS: RECORD WHEN SCORING FIRST|
That’s a combined record of 220-53-30 when scoring first. How about when Nashville’s opponents score first?
|NASHVILLE PREDATORS: RECORD WHEN TRAILING FIRST|
Not nearly as good: a combined 100-143-28 when falling behind first.
There’s one outlier in that second table: in 2005-06, the Preds were 23-11-2 when their opponents scored first. The only team better that year was Detroit, who were 23-8-4 when trailing first. That Detroit team put up an incredible 58-16-8 overall record (124 points) to the second-place Preds’ 49-25-8 (104 points) that year. How much of an outlier were the Wings’ and Preds’ records when trailing first in 2005-06? They were the #1 and #2 marks by any team in any season since the 2004-05 lockout. The only other team to manage so much as a winning record after trailing first during that period was the 2008-09 Boston Bruins (19-11-5).
Even back when the Predators were a struggling expansion team from 1998 to 2003, they still had a combined 104-44-34 record when they scored first. (I’ve counted ties and overtime losses together for the purpose of simplification, since they both awarded one point in the standings.) Think about how bad those early teams were for a second, and then consider that they were actually a winning team when they scored first.
Score first, and you win hockey games. The Nashville Predators are no exception.