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Players Respond to Early Season Schedule Quirks

Wednesday, 10.12.2011 / 7:39 PM CT / Features
By Bryan Mullen
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Players Respond to Early Season Schedule Quirks
It seems more like weeks – not days – since the Nashville Predators played a regular season game.

In reality, when the puck drops Thursday for the Predators’ home opener against Phoenix at Bridgestone Arena, only five days will have passed since Nashville’s win at St. Louis. But in hockey time, that’s forever.

There are positives and negatives when a layoff that long takes places in the NHL. It can hurt momentum when a team is playing well (Nashville is 2-0-0 after coming off back-to-back road victories against division foes Columbus and St. Louis). On the positive side, the break can allow for some rest and healing after such a grueling start.

The Predators are going with the latter.

“We feel good about ourselves after those first two games,” Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “We want it to carry over to the next game. There has been a little bit of a flu bug going around and it has allowed us to get healthy. That’s been a good thing. We’re also getting extra work. We’re improving on things that we didn’t do very well in the first two games. I think those are the positives.”

For most of the Predators players, the layoff has them amped up even more to get back to playing games.

“Everybody is ready to rock now,” Predators forward Patric Hornqvist said. “We’re all looking forward to the game. When there are a couple of days between games, you have to make sure you stay in game shape. But I feel like everybody is going to be jumping around. The coaches are going to come up with a good game plan.”

As the schedule progresses, so will the frequency of games. Consider, in the first 15 days of October, the Predators will have played four games. In the final 16 days of October, Nashville will play eight games.

“We’re rested up for that and that’s exactly what we want,” Hornqvist said. “We’re ready to play every other night. Everyone is healthy and ready to have a good stretch here.”

After playing the next two games at home, the Predators will head out on a three-day, Canadian road trip. Then they return to Nashville to play three home games in five days.

As with most NHL clubs, the schedules offers some daunting stretches, and the Predators will experience at least three of them in the first month. But the players and coaching staff are relying on the confines of Bridgestone Arena to help make it work to their advantage.

“Our fans are so boisterous,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “There’s good energy in the building and it’s going to be fun (on Thursday). It will bring back some good memories, but we’re starting new memories. That’s the key. We have to get our home-ice dominance again. We’ve been pretty good at home in the last seven years.”

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 57 36 17 4 158 130 76
2 DAL 54 34 15 5 174 145 73
3 STL 56 30 17 9 133 130 69
4 LAK 52 32 17 3 144 119 67
5 SJS 52 28 20 4 149 138 60
6 ANA 52 26 19 7 117 122 59
7 NSH 54 25 21 8 139 144 58
8 COL 56 27 25 4 149 155 58
9 MIN 53 23 20 10 130 130 56
10 ARI 52 24 22 6 138 161 54
11 VAN 53 21 20 12 123 143 54
12 CGY 52 24 25 3 138 151 51
13 WPG 53 24 26 3 137 151 51
14 EDM 55 21 29 5 133 166 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Josi 54 11 27 -3 38
F. Forsberg 54 17 18 -7 35
S. Weber 54 14 21 -5 35
M. Ribeiro 54 6 27 2 33
J. Neal 54 19 13 18 32
M. Ekholm 54 6 18 3 24
R. Ellis 53 6 16 2 22
C. Smith 54 11 7 -2 18
C. Jarnkrok 53 9 8 0 17
C. Wilson 37 4 12 -1 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 20 18 7 .903 2.54
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36