Most Complicated Predators Storyline: The Return of Austin Watson
Though the Predators are currently missing some of their top stars, they’ve gotten a boost recently from a returning player. Austin Watson has been on fire since his return from suspension. In his first seven games back, he had four goals & two assists, including a hat trick that led the Predators to victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
Ordinarily, we would all be happy to see Watson back on the ice and playing at a top level. Unfortunately, the reason for Watson’s absence is one that has me feeling conflicting emotions about all of it. If you’re reading this, you know that Austin Watson was suspended for the beginning of this season due to an incident involving domestic assault. We all have our opinions regarding what happened, and the Predators’ decision to stand behind Watson. Some are perfectly fine with it and don’t think Watson did anything wrong. Others are outraged and want Watson banned from the sport of hockey.
A lot of us are in the middle, which is where I am. We support Watson’s efforts on the ice and hope that he steers clear of off-ice issues in the future. In the back of our mind, we worry that it’s something we’ll have to hear about again. Hopefully we’re just worrying too much. At least for the near future, every time Watson has success on the ice will result in opposing team fans bringing up the incident and trying to make people feel bad for cheering for him. I admit to feeling a little uneasy when he was part of the banner-raising ceremony. It’s one of those things that will pass with him…as long as there’s no new developments.
Hopefully, Watson rewards the Predators’ trust in him with positive actions on & off the ice in the future. That’s all we can hope for.
Best Predators Game: 5-4 OT win over Dallas, November 10
I like road wins, as they’re less expected than wins in Bridgestone Arena. I like divisional wins, as they keep a rival from taking one or two points away from the Predators. I really like overtime wins, because it seems like the Nashville Predators can never do anything in three-on-three hockey.
The win over the Stars in American Airlines Center had all of these wonderful qualities, along with the come-from-behind aspect that adds extra fun. Nashville was down 3-1 in the second period, scored two goals quickly to start the third, then Roman Josi had to tie things up with 43 seconds left in regulation. Oh, and that was on a power play, another unexpected thing from Nashville.
It wasn’t the prettiest win of the month, but it was the most exciting.
Worst Predators Game: 6-2 loss to St. Louis, November 23
Over the years I’ve developed a good sense for when a team is going to have a bad night. When I wrote the preview for the Black Friday game against the Blues, I had a feeling that the Nashville Predators were in for a rough one.
They were playing a team that desperately needed something good to happen. The St.Louis Blues had just seen their coach fired after an abysmal start to the season that put them at the bottom of the Central Division. They knew that they had to do something good quick, or they’d fall further behind the other teams & lose any hope of competing for a chance to get into the postseason. A big win over the first place team in the Central was just what the doctor ordered.
I didn’t watch any of this game. By the time my other plans for the evening were over, the Predators were down 5-1 & Juuse Saros had been pulled from the game. I saw no reason to concern myself with such nonsense.