Is it the All Star Break already? Not quite, but the Nashville Predators have had a long stretch of the calendar without playing many games and getting a lot of extra rest.
Partly due to a water main break near Bridgestone Arena and the rest thanks to the NHL scheduling crew, the Nashville Predators have only played three games in the past 14 days.
All three of those games came in a four-day span from November 29 – December 2.
How does this help the Nashville Predators?
The Nashville Predators have struggled to start the season to say the least. Their play in recent weeks has improved winning seven of their last nine games, but they know it is going to be a grind from here on out if they are going to have a push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This time off, and time to practice will allow the Nashville Predators to get back to the basics. It gives the coaching staff time to concentrate on issues the team is having on the ice.
The power play is one area that the practice should be focused towards. With just under an 18 percent success rate, the Predators rank 28th. That is down significantly from the 24.4% and ranking sixth just one season ago.
Another key factor in this shortage of games for the Predators is the time that it gives players the ability to recover from any minor or nagging injuries they may have.
This can also give time to Head Coach John Hynes to get his line combination in order, and figure out how he will replace McDonagh. Rookie Jordan Gross was called up from the Milwaukee Admirals on Monday.
How does this hurt the Nashville Predators?
The Nashville Predators have only played 23 games to this point of the season. There are two other teams, Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes, that have played 23 games. Across the NHL the majority of teams have played 26 to 28 games.
Later in the season it is tougher to make up games but that is what the Predators are going to have to do. With two games being postponed, it makes it more of a necessity to take advantage of this down time.
The makeup games will be January 17 at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets and April 14 against the Colorado Avalanche. The game against the Avalanche will be the official last game of the 2022-23 NHL regular season, assuming there are no more postponements.
Starting in January and going through the end of the regular season the Predators play 13, 10, 16, and 8 games respectively. Of those 47 games, 24 are at home and 23 are on the road.
There are also 11 sets of back-to-backs remaining, leaving plenty of more starts remaining for backup goaltender Kevin Lankinen to continue showing his value in his first year with the Predators.
Starting on March 9 the Predators play every other day through April 10th with a back-to-back set during that stretch. It will come down to this grueling end to the regular season to decide if the Predators will make the playoffs or not.
This long of a slow schedule at the quarter point of the season would typically be a negative. However, with the play that the Predators have had up to this point, taking some time to reset, getting back to the basics, and getting rested for the last three quarters should be beneficial for them.
Enjoy it while it lasts because starting in January, it’s going to be one wild ride to the finish.