After suffering their seventh straight loss last night, 5-2 at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks, the Nashville Predators are enjoying a day off today. It’s the first of three in a row, marking just the second time this season that the team has been afforded an opportunity for so much rest.
|Viktor Stalberg||Mike Ribeiro||Craig Smith||James Neal|
|Gabriel Bourque||Olli Jokinen||Colin Wilson||Filip Forsberg|
|Eric Nystrom||Derek Roy||Matt Cullen|
|Rich Clune||Paul Gaustad||Colton Sissons|
Though they’ve not truly been effective for any extended stretch this season, the Preds have enjoyed the most success this season when getting at least two days of rest between games. But thanks to the lockout-shortened schedule 35 of their 44 games were played either as back-to-backs or on one day of rest. Compare this to 2011-12, when 13 of the team’s first 48 games (the number they’ll play this year) came on two days of rest, and the compression of the schedule becomes apparent.
So how has the lack of rest has manifested itself?
First of all there’s Pekka Rinne, who has started 40 of the team’s 44 games. That’s a 90.9-percent rate, even higher than the 87.8 percent when he started 72 of 82 Preds games last season. The team is very lucky he hasn’t been injured playing so often on so little rest, and his save percentage is down to its lowest level (.911) since 2009-10.
Then there are the number of injuries that have forced the team to play with a less-than-ideal lineup. Though there have been several season-ending injuries, there have also been others that sidelined a player because of the tight schedule when they could have been skated off with an extra day off in a normal season.
Finally, the lack of time off has also shown is in how little the team has been able to practice. Barry Trotz’s defensive system and the team’s power play have both suffered from not having time on practice ice to work out inconsistencies.
So what effect will this week’s three-day break in action have on the Nashville Predators? The last time had this long to catch their collective breath they came back to the ice with a triumphant 6-0 win over Edmonton on home ice. It’s probably asking too much for a similar performance when they return to action on Friday in Chicago. But can we get a Filip Forsberg goal? Just a little something to be hopeful about would be nice as this season draws to a close.