Nashville finds themselves in an interesting position with 12 games left to in the regular season. They’ve seemingly locked in their position as the first wild card by being seven points ahead of Colorado and trailing Chicago by five points for third in the Central.
( I know five points isn’t insurmountable, but it’s unlikely.)
The situation is similar to a marathon runner too far behind the lead pack but possessing a comfortable lead from the trailers. Without the pressure of competition at your heels or in your crosshairs, giving everything you have is more difficult to do. That’s just human nature.
With that being said, the Predators can and should focus on recapturing some home ice magic they enjoyed for much of last season. That opportunity arises with 8 of the final 12 games being played in the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena.
Nashville hasn’t played poorly at home this season with points in the last six contests at Bridgestone, but the overall record of 17-10-6 is mediocre for a club that torched the league on home ice last season. A 28-9-4 record was good enough for second in the entire league. Even more impressive was their 26-3-1 mark before the end of season slump.
Many have pointed out this season could be the reverse of the last. If so, the outstanding home ice advantage would be restored going into the postseason. The Predators have already proven winning on the road is not a problem. A franchise-record 13 road game point streak will do that for you.
What’s the big deal if they become tougher to beat at home? We’ve already established any home ice advantage for the playoffs is likely out of reach. However, the argument could be made that playing well at home is just as or even more important for the team without home ice advantage.
Let’s imagine the Predators were able to split the first two games away from Nashville in the first round. In that scenario, the team would be in position to take care of the next two games in front of the home crowd and capture a commanding 3-1 lead in the seven games series. That’s all hypothetical but provides a situation where a distinct home advantage can do wonders to help the chances of moving on.
We’re pointing out the obvious in a lot of ways. Of course everyone wants to be stout in front of their fans. But in a stretch of games that won’t change the larger playoff picture, Nashville is might be looking for something to strive for. Getting back to last year’s incredible home ice play can be the exact goal reached as the Predators wind down the regular season.
Winning on the road is second nature for Nashville right now. Coupling that with increased production in front of their raucous crowd makes for a hockey team no one wants to see when the calendar hits April.