Probably one of the very first things Predators fans did when the schedule was released was check the specs of the home opener.
What they probably didn’t figure was having Nashville return home for the first regular season game at Bridgestone Arena with an 0-2 record.
Even though that’s exactly what will happen after dropping two road contests at Boston and against the flightless tuxedo birds, the home opener will bring something never-before-seen in Predators franchise history: a banner raising ceremony, which happens before Nashville hosts the Philadelphia Flyers. Philly’s in the middle of a nine-day road trip to start the season, and Nashville will be the Flyers’ third stop for a home opener on the cross-country-and-back trek.
...have an infusion of youth, with No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick in the fold for the Flyers. Other youngsters such as defensemen Ivan Provorov and Shane Gostisbehere should help continue an upward trend for Philly.
Wayne Simmonds was the NHL’s Third Star of the Week last week, after scoring four goals including both game-winners for the Flyers. Captain Claude Giroux and Jake Vorachek are still around as the top threats, too.
Brian Elliott joined the team in free agency to replace the departed Steve Mason in goal, though general manager Ron Hextall added help by trading for Dustin Tokarski from Anaheim following an injury to Anthony Stolarz that will keep him out for some time.
Sean Couturier centers the top line, with Giroux at left wing and Voracek on the right side. Patrick had been centering a unit with Simmonds and Jordan Weal, but swapped places with Valtteri Filppula for the last game. Patrick skated with Travis Konecny and Dale Wiese, while the fourth line has Scott Laughton centering Taylor Leier and Michael Raffl.
On the back end, Provorov has been paired with Andrew MacDonald while Gostisbehere teams up with Robert Hagg, and the third unit featuresTravis Sanheim and Radko Gudas.
Recent events have rendered the Flyers the least-hated team in Pennsylvania, though that’s like trying to decide which fruitcake is better during the holidays.
…need to get their act going, and perhaps a bit of home cooking will do just that. It’ll be an emotional night in the tire barn, but the Predators will have to come out with a more focused effort than in the first two games.
Much like the beginning of last season, there’s been plenty of hand-wringing over the start, and the usual overreactions have taken hold after two losses to pretty good teams.
Even-strength time still needs to happen more, with Nashville surrendering 10 power play opportunities in the first two games. The Preds have killed nine of those chances, so there is at least one positive to take from the first two losses.
Does the JOFA line get broken up? It could be if reports from yesterday’s practice are any indication, if only temporarily. We also still haven’t seen Sam Girard’s debut yet, though that could also happen against the Flyers. Colton Sissons and Roman Josi didn’t skate on Monday after having a day off on Sunday. Tuesday’s morning skate could provide some answers as to whether it was simply a maintenance day for those two or something that would keep them out.
Regardless, the banner-raising ceremony will be nice for a few minutes, but the players will be chomping at the bit to get going. Hopefully that energy turns into a positive start and not the negative one that has accompanied the previous two games.
A quick memory
Where were you when Ryan Ellis took Wayne Simmonds to flight school? It’s too bad Ellis won’t be in the lineup, because another solid hip check like that would be too sweet.
Reasons to Watch
- That banner ceremony will give us all the feels.
- Maybe Sam Girard makes his debut?
- Can’t help but think being at home will provide a lift for the Predators. With a younger, faster Flyers team coming in, might be a night to get Cody McLeod out of the lineup.
- The new home jerseys make their regular season debut. I’m not totally against them, I just think they could be really good with a couple of small tweaks. This is also the last time I will talk about them this season, because no matter what we say, they aren’t changing anytime soon.
- Oh, did I mention they’re raising a banner?
Tonight’s Theme Song
Since we’re going to revisit the playoff run of last year, why not dial up the unofficial theme to last year’s playoffs, “Glorious Domination” by CFO$, and not give in until we’re victorious?
If you’re not feeling so glorious, you could always sing the theme song to “Welcome Back, Kotter.”
How to Watch
The usual suspects will be broadcasting the game tonight, with Fox Sports Tennessee handling the television side and 102.5 The Game providing the radio broadcast.