Are the Predators ready for the shortened NHL season? After six days of training camp, five days on-ice, film sessions, off-ice workouts and extra on-ice practices, that's still the overly simplistic, yet daunting question that remains for Nashville.
Tonight the Predators will open their 48-game season against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
"They're as ready as we can get them ready in five days," coach Barry Trotz said. "We have to keep improving off of that."
There's a typical flow to an opening-night game. Players often feel an extra tinge of energy. The atmosphere inside the building is a little louder than for most regular-season games. But this one should be different — simply because it will occur more than three months later than Nashville's originally scheduled home opener in October. This was scrapped because of the 113-day NHL lockout.
"There's going to be a lot of emotions on both sides, and both teams get so ramped up, you're going to have to keep everything in check," captain Shea Weber said. "You want to play within your system, and play hard, but you can't get away from that and you can't be undisciplined."
Because Nashville hasn't played a game since May 7, 2012, it's unclear what will unfold Saturday. The game could be a sloppy mess, or both sides may display unexpected calm. Ice time may or may not be evenly distributed to keep players fresh. There's a chance injuries such as groin pulls and muscle tears could flare up if players aren't in good enough shape.
Icebreaker: Predators will finally answer big question tonight
Tennessean | Jan 19