Past Slow Starts Haven't Affected Preds Playoff Success

Thursday, 11.11.2010 / 3:28 PM / Features
By Jay Levin  - Nashville Predators
The recent stumble is nothing too distressing for the long-term goals of this year’s Nashville Predators squad. After all, slow starts are nothing new to playoff-bound Preds teams.

Last season Nashville opened 3-6-1 in the first 10 games and was 7-8-1 after 16 games, before rattling off 85 points over the final 66 regular-season contests to earn the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference playoff bracket.

In ’07-08 the Preds started 2-6-0 in the season’s first eight games and were 7-7-1 after Game 15. That year’s team stumbled through remainder of the calendar year before catching fire when January rolled around and finished with 55 points in the final 45 games to earn the conference’s No. 8 seed.

The first Predators playoff team stumbled out of the gate, too, with a 3-5-0 mark in the first eight games of the ’03-04 season. That squad was 9-10-1 after 20 games before picking up 72 points in the last 62 games of the schedule to nail down the No. 8 seed.

Even the dominant ‘06-07 squad opened 0-3 before rattling off a team-record 110 points.

Unlike last season, ’07-08, or even ’03-04, the answers appear easier to spot than they did at the same points of those three campaigns. Simply by getting injured players back into the lineup should help the team right its recent struggles.

Injuries are a part of the game and a part of the season-long battle, but the early season injuries for the Preds have all been at the top of the lineup and to players who have been primarily durable. Ryan Suter has missed the last eight games; he had missed 17 games total in his first five NHL seasons and none the past two years. Martin Erat has played 70-plus games in five of the last six seasons. Matthew Lombardi had missed four-or-fewer games in four of his six NHL campaigns; last year he played 78 games, with 81 and 82 games in two of the three seasons prior.

The team was 3-0-1 through four games when Suter was injured in the first period of Game 5 (Nov. 19 vs. Calgary). In the eight games without Suter, the team’s most well-rounded two-way defenseman, the Preds have gone 2-5-1, allowing four-or-more goals in five of those eight contests.

The offense hasn’t been absent of the injury bug either. Erat has missed six of the first 13 games. Lombardi has missed the last 11 games. Erat and Lombardi – along with Colin Wilson – formed the Preds most consistent offensive line during training camp and preseason. The way the Patric Hornqvist-Cal O’Reilly-Steve Sullivan trio have developed this season (12 goals in the first 13 games), a second dangerous offensive unit will go a long way toward putting the team in playoff position.

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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