Tomorrow the Nashville Predators host the Dallas Stars in an all-important Game 5 at Bridgestone Arena. Start time is slated for 2:00 PM on NBC. The Saturday afternoon match should be a raucous affair as the series is deadlocked at 2-2.
There are always a few afternoon games sprinkled in throughout the year for the Nashville Predators. At least in my mind, these games tend to bring a bunch of energy, both from the players and fans. There’s just something about playing hockey during the day that brings a different intensity.
For the audience, it’s kind of like going to the movie theater in the middle of the day. When you hit the exits after being in a dark room for a few hours, you forget that it’s still light out and you have time to do whatever you want. Especially on Saturdays, the fans are a little more loose as they get Sunday to recover.
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For the players, who really knows what it is about day games that stirs them up. It is a change of pace, for sure. Or a break from the routine. It’s not the normal 7PM start time as is the case for the Predators.
Whatever it may be, with some help from Hockey-Reference, I thought I’d take a look at the Nashville Predators recent history (past two years) in afternoon games to see if anything sticks out.
In the past two seasons, including the playoffs, Nashville has played 12 games ranging from noon to 3:00 PM start time. Interesting enough, 9 of those games were on the road. Also, this year alone the Predators had 8 afternoon games. They compiled a 3-5 record on the year and a cumulative record of 5-7. The data may be minimal, but their record in afternoon games doesn’t bode well.
However, 4 games went into overtime, and 6 were decided by one goal. So the games have been close, and the Nashville Predators’ record could easily be singing a different tune.
It’s not like the Preds have had terrible luck like some teams have had, but they are still sub-.500 so this could very well be anyone’s game.
All we know for certain is that the offense is going to have to show up, because the Predators allowed the most goals they had all season in a 12:30 start time game against the Carolina Hurricanes in which they fell 6-3.
Something definitely worth mentioning is the fact that these afternoon games are, for the most part, high-scoring. In the 12 games I reference, the Nashville Predators totaled 43 goals which average to 3.58 goals/game. But the total goals against is 47 averaging at 3.91 goals/game. Not the best of news for Predators fans, but it means we could be in store for a bunch of offense in Game 5.
Both Nashville and Dallas have some history with day games. Earlier this year, the Predators and Stars squared off in afternoon game at Dallas. In fact, it was an overtime victory for Nashville. They were down 3-1 at one point, and Roman Josi tied the game at 4 in the last minute of the game to force extra time. That means nine goals were scored! Can we expect something like this in Game 5?
Actually, in last year’s playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche Game 2 was an afternoon game. Low and behold, the Nashville Predators squeaked out a 5-4 victory. Which was another tight, high scoring game where the Nashville Predators had to pull through in a game that totaled nine goals.
If the trend persists, we could see a close but high-scoring affair. In this recent history of Predators’ afternoon games, by the law of averages Game 5 will finish with a 4-3 score. Let’s hope it’s in favor of your Nashville Predators.