I wanted to take a day to process Tuesday night’s loss to Detroit. The initial reaction was like most in Pred Nation… disappointment, panic, frustration, panic, disillusionment and…
Oh yeah… PANIC!
Well… it’s been 36 hours and I am following Douglas Adam’s sage advice… It was a loss… nothing more, nothing less. Jimmy Howard managed to stone the Preds during a well played first period that, in reality, was the game. But as we all know… one good period does not win a game, and for some reason, you can call Bridgestone Arena “Joe Louis South” because the Red Wings have owned the Preds inside the friendly confines for the last six years.
And that may be my biggest concern. The Predators have always fed off the energy at Bridgestone Arena, used it as fuel to power comebacks and domination over the last few seasons… something has changed, and I am not sure what. Opponents love and hate playing in Smashville, there has always been a tone of envy in their voices when describing the experience of playing at 501 Broadway. I think that opponents absolutely LOVE shutting Smashville up… as they should.
The Predators home record over the last few seasons has been stellar. But last year's playoffs, and lately this season? Not so much.
Since Christmas, Nashville is 4-6-1 at home. A very un-Smashville-like record. Since the 7-2 romp over the defending Stanley Cup champs in January? Just two wins in six games. When you look at the home heavy February schedule, you think… now there’s the stretch to create some separation. So far, that hasn’t come to fruition.
So… how do you get the home mojo back? Pred Nation continues to bring the noise and the funk, but I really think the answer is pretty simple. In the immortal words of Frankie Goes to Hollywood… Relax.
I watch pregame skate pretty closely, and the last few home games, the team has looked just a little tight. They normally are full of smiles and joking around, laughing and enjoying the moment. I don’t see as much of it lately… maybe it is the weight of expectations? Maybe they feel the pressure of wanting to win at home so badly it drives overplaying? I agree with Head Coach Peter Laviolette’s assessment that the team’s play has not been bad in the last two games, I believe they deserved a better fate on Sunday and Tuesday… but sometimes the puck doesn’t bounce your way.
So tonight, as the Montreal Canadiens hit town, let’s have a little more fun. Let’s just relax and play the game they know. The Habs hit town on a roll, points in six straight games and a resurgent Carey Price between the pipes. Oh… and don’t forget the Predators former captain, current Canadiens’ captain Shea Weber.
For Nashville, Pekka Rinne has an outstanding career record against Montreal, 8-2-2 with a 1.46 GAA and a .951 save percentage (that’s not a typo.) The JoFA line remains one of the hottest lines in hockey however, the Predators are looking for ways to get the second, third and fourth lines on the board.
Come celebrate Valentine’s Day with your sweetie tonight! Plenty of hockey love to go around! Game time is 7pm at Bridgestone Arena, limited tickets remain. Pregame is at 6pm on 102.5 the Game, 6:30 on Fox Sports Tennessee. Puck drop is at 7:08pm.
The Where We Stand
Nashville maintains the second slot in the Central Division, four points behind the Winnipeg Jets, Winnipeg holds two game in hand over Nashville. The Preds lead Dallas by eight points, St. Louis by 10 and Minnesota by 12.
Nashville currently holds the 4 seed in the Western Conference playoff race and has a 99.7% chance of making the playoffs according to SportsClubStats.com… the “85% chance” line in the Western Conference is at 89 points right now.
Impact Games Tonight –6:30pm – DAL @ TBL. 7pm – COL @ WPG. 8pm – STL @ ARI.
- Milwaukee Update – Milwaukee has a few days off before they hit the road. Their next game is Sunday at Manitoba.
- PK vs. Shea – Subban has four points in four games against Montreal. Weber will play his 900th career NHL game tonight, all but 137 of them were in a Nashville uniform.
- Subban Improvement – PK SUbban’s play has been noticeably better over the past few games capped off with a howitzer of a power play goal on Tuesday night… his first PPG of the season. This could portend good things to come.
- 200 for 22 – Tonight will be Kevin Fiala’s 200th career NHL game.
- Flyin’ Ryan – It has to be said… Ryan Johansen is having one helluva year. He has 15 multi-point games so far this season and is on a five game point streak.
- Power Play – The two worst power plays in the league go head-to-head tonight… I wonder if anyone will decline?
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