Taking a (Home) Stand…
By Miranda Martin
Preds fans… it’s finally here. Your Nashville Predators have returned to their home ice for the first time in 17 very long days.
Though the road trip led to late-night adrenaline rushes as well as some stressful shutouts and shootouts, the Predators were able to pick up 9 points in 7 games on the road, making their record 4-2-3 for the season so far. The team wrapped up the road trip Tuesday night with a stellar performance against the St. Louis Blues—a team that had defeated them twice prior this season.
Although the first two games of the season were disappointing shootout losses, there is promise for the team on home ice. In previous seasons, the Nashville Predators have had one of the best home records for any NHL team. In the 2011-2012 season, the team ranked 6th in the league for their home ice record of 26-10-5, and they have been in the top ten of home ice records since 2010.
Even this season, the offensive flare was shown in the first two games. Before the 6-1 outlier score against St. Louis Tuesday night, the Predators had scored 5 of their 12 total goals in their two home games, and averaged barely over a goal per game the six games afterward. The power play at home has also been stellar, scoring 3 goals in 7 power play opportunities. It ranks the team first in the Western Conference for home power play percentage. This starkly contrasts the 9.1% power play conversion in the road games.
In the next two weeks, there are six home games and only two road games. More importantly, the next two weeks will start to solidify who the major contenders are this season. The teams that have had rough starts can get back on their feet and stabilize a remotely successful season. Teams that have been hot may get slowed down a little. Teams that started hot last season, such as the Minnesota Wild and Toronto Maple Leafs, ended up not even making the playoffs. Good starts help, but maintaining the success is what matters.
It will be crucial for the Predators to continue the offensive surge they had the first half of Tuesday night against the LA Kings tonight. The momentum does not need to slow down and kick back to the Kings if the Predators take the lead. The boys need to keep the crowd cheering, and the crowd needs to stay loud. Special teams will play a definite role in the success, and keeping that power play percentage at 42.9% will be a definite challenge.
Very limited tickets remain for tonight’s game, and the Predators organization expects their 16th consecutive sellout. Faceoff is at 7 PM.