The second half of the NHL season officially gets underway tomorrow for the Nashville Predators. The remaining schedule for the team sets them up well.
Six days. It has been six long and grueling days since the Nashville Predators took the ice. In that time, the city of Nashville has experienced Spring-like weather followed by bitter cold with ice and snow. More snow is on the way tonight, meaning many of us will be home, anxiety building until our Predators play what is a meaningful game.
Forty-two games are complete. As things stand today, the Predators sit in third place in the Western Conference, second in the Central Division. Winning one, if not both, are within reach. It will take some strong effort. Starting off with a win against Vegas tomorrow would be nice.
Looking over the remaining schedule for key teams in the conference suggests one thing: the Predators have an advantage.
Breaking down the games
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Now, let me be clear about this. Any team can beat any other team at any time. Case in point, the Predators took a road loss to the Arizona Coyotes and the Golden Knights lost at home to Edmonton. But, it is clear that the schedule for the rest of the season sets up well for the Predators. In terms of games left, rest between games, home and road schedule, and opponent strength, the schedule is set up for the Predators to win.
Check it out. Both Vegas and Nashville have 40 games to play. The St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets both have 36 games remaining. That means that the Predators have four games in hand to make up ground on the Jets, and are only three points out of the division’s top spot.
When it comes to rest, all things are about even. Nashville has five games where they have more rest than their opponent and five with less rest. Vegas has three games in each category. However, the Blues have four games where they have more rest, five when they have less. For the Jets, it is better, with six games of more rest and three with less. Here is a look at the entire league in terms of rest.
Home ice advantage
The Nashville Predators need home ice advantage in the playoffs. They certainly have that the rest of the season. Of their 42 games played, 23 were on the road. This means they have 22 home games and 18 road games left.
Vegas? 19 home and 21 road games. The Blues? 17 and 19.
But, the Jets have 22 home games and 15 on the road. The Jets appear to have the advantage at home, but the way the Predators have played on the road this season gives them a strong chance to catch the Jets.
Finally, the strength of schedule debate heavily favors the Predators. When looking at teams with who earn points in .500 or less games, the Predators play those opponents. Of their last 40 games, 13 are against teams with records below .500. The Golden Knights have eight such games, with the Blues and Jets with six. Simply put, the Predators have an easier schedule than other teams contending for the Central and the top team in the west.
So, let’s review. More games. More home games and road games. And more games against weaker competition. The second half of the season is set up for the Nashville Predators to win it all.
Can they take advantage of it is a completely different question.