TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. COLUMBUS
For the third time in four seasons, the Predators begin their 2011-12 season away from Bridgestone Arena, taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at Nationwide Arena. It marks the first time in franchise history the two Central Division foes have faced off on opening night.
A season ago, Nashville compiled a record of 4-2-0 against the Blue Jackets. In the final regular season game at Bridgestone Arena, the Predators jumped out early with Patric Hornqvist continuing his assault on the Blue Jackets. Hornqvist notched three points (2g-1a) on the night; giving him five points (3g-2a) in the season series. Matt Halischuk potted his first career game-winning goal just two minutes into the second-period and Sergei Kostitsyn added a third-period marker as the Predators took home the 4-1 victory. On Feb. 27, Nashville extended the longest active home winning streak (17) in the National Hockey League with a 3-2 come from behind win. Nashville’s last appearance at Nationwide Arena (Feb. 22) was a hard-fought battle through 40 minutes of shutout hockey, with Columbus ultimately scoring four goals in the final frame to claim the a 4-0 win. On Jan. 2, Nashville trailed after 20 minutes, but tallied three second-period goals and added another in the third to win 4-1. Captain Shea Weber’s posted his sixth career three-point effort (1g-2a), while Hornqvist (1g-1a) and Colin Wilson (2a) also recorded multi-point games. Nashville’s other win came 4-3 in a shootout on Dec. 1 at Bridgestone Arena, as Steve Sullivan scored the shootout winner. In the first meeting of 2010-11, Columbus took home a 2-0 win.
Since 2006-07, Nashville is 10-5-2 within the confines of Nationwide Arena, and 17-11-3 all-time. Seven of the last 11 meetings between the clubs have needed overtime/a shootout to determine a winner and since Dec. 27, 2007, the home team has won 19-of-23 games.
CAREER NOTES vs. COLUMBUS
Weber led the team with six points (2g-4a) and 10 penalty minutes in six games against Columbus last season. For his career, he has amassed 21 points (7g-14a) in 30 career games against the Blue Jackets, his highest total against any team. In addition to his three-point effort on Jan. 2, Weber posted a career-high four points (1g-3a) against Columbus on Oct. 18, 2008… Martin Erat has more career goals and points against the Blue Jackets than any other team in the League (13g-29a-42pts, 48gp), including 41 points (9g-32a) in 42 games since the start of the 2003-04 season… Nashville’s 2007 first-round pick Jonathon Blum made his NHL debut against the Blue Jackets on Feb. 22, 2010 in the arena where he took the stage as the 23rd overall pick (first round) in the 2007 Entry Draft. The Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., native scored his first NHL goal against the Blue Jackets on Feb. 27, 2011, a 3-2 victory… Jordin Tootoo has 95 penalty minutes in 37 games against Columbus, the highest total of any player against a single team in franchise history.
NASHVILLE IN SEASON OPENERS
The Predators are 6-6-0 all-time in season openers, winning five of seven since 2003. A season ago, Nashville defeated Anaheim 4-1 with a flurry of second-period goals. In 2009, the Preds snuck by Dallas 3-2 in a shootout after dropping a 5-2 decision to St. Louis to open the season prior. Nashville whitewashed Colorado in 2007 (4-0), fell to Chicago in the highest-scoring game in franchise history in 2006 (8-6), edged San Jose in 2005 (3-2) and dropped Anaheim in 2003 (3-1).
NASHVILLE PREDATORS NOTES:
The Predators have…
• Made the playoffs in six of the last seven season, making them one of only six franchises to advance to the playoffs six times since 2003-04 (San Jose, Detroit, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Montreal are the others).
• Forty wins in six straight seasons, one of just four teams (with Detroit, San Jose and Calgary) to do so.
• The League’s sixth-highest win total (272) since 2005-06.
• Amassed at least 23 home victories in six straight seasons – the NHL’s only team to do so.
• The League’s third-most home wins (155) behind Detroit (158) and San Jose (156) since 2005-06.
From the 2010-11 season:
• Gave up the third-fewest goals in the League, a franchise-low 194.
• Had the fifth-best penalty kill in the NHL (84.9 percent), and second-best on home ice (87.8 percent)
• Five-on-Five play improved from the previous season (+21 in 2010-11 vs. +7 in 2009-10). That was fifth-best in the League.
• Overcame 350-plus man-games lost, which ranked top five in the League.
• Shea Weber became Nashville’s first-ever NHL First-Team All-Star, and finished second in Norris Trophy voting in the closest awards vote since 1996.
• Pekka Rinne became the club’s first-ever NHL Second-Team All-Star, finished second in voting for the Vezina Trophy, and fourth in voting for the Hart Trophy.
• David Poile and Barry Trotz were finalists for GM of the Year and the Adams Trophy. Poile enters the season ranked third all-time in both wins (1,049) and games (2,164) by a general manager. Trotz enters the season with the sixth-most wins with one team (455) and the fourth-most games coached (984) in NHL history.
Roster Breakdown: Average Age is 26 years, 5 months
SEVENTEEN of the 25 players on the opening day roster were drafted and developed by the Predators
• FOUR First-Round Picks – Legwand, Suter, Blum, Wilson
• FOUR Second-Round Picks – Klein, Weber, Geoffrion, Spaling
• FOUR Third-Round or Fourth-Round Picks – Laakso, Ekholm, Smith, Tootoo
• FIVE picks from the Fifth Round or later – O’Reilly, Erat (191st overall), Lindback (207th overall), Hornqvist (230th overall) and Rinne (258th overall)
• THREE Through Trade – Fisher, Kostitsyn and Halischuk
• FIVE Free agents – Smithson, Bergfors, Stortini, Bouillon and Hillen
Nashville has seven players on the roster who have scored 20-plus goals in a season at least once
• Fisher – 2005-06 (22), 2006-07 (22). 2007-08 (23) and 2009-10 (25)
• Erat – 2005-06 (20), 2007-08 (23) and 2009-10 (21)
• Legwand – 2006-07 (27) and 2008-09 (20)
• Hornqvist – 2009-10 (30) and 2010-11 (21)
• Kostitsyn – 23 goals in 2010-11
• Bergfors – 21 in 2009-10
• Weber – 23 goals in 2009-10
As a franchise, the Predators will celebrate their 1,000th NHL regular season game on Saturday, Nov. 12 vs. Montreal. Entering the 2011-12 season, Nashville has an all-time regular season record of 455-398-131.