This was supposed to be the first of 82 game day articles about the Nashville Predators. This was supposed to be the most anticipated game since the Predators knocked the Red Wings out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. This was supposed to be opening weekend hockey and yet here we are with no games and no progress.
On this sad day for hockey fans, we at The Predatorial thought we would try to lighten the mood and highlight some of the best opening night games for the Predators since the last lockout. Of course the first opening night in 1998 will always be the #1 choice for every Predator fan, but in this run down we want to see how the Predators have fared on opening nights since the 05-06 season.
Incredibly, the Predators have a 5-2-0 record on opening night with losses to Chicago and St. Louis. This might have been an omen to what would have been tonight’s contest against the Detroit Red Wings as Nashville doesn’t have as much luck in season openers against Central Division opponents unless they are Columbus.
In the season opening wins, the Predators boast many firsts with newly appointed personnel.
In the 05-06 opener, newly signed free agent Paul Kariya scored his first goal in a Nashville sweater while Scott Hartnell scored the GWG in a hap-hazard wrist shot from the blue line with just over 4 minutes left in the game.
In 07-08, the opener saw Nashville blowout the Colorado Avalanche by a score of 4-0 with newly christened Captain Jason Arnott scoring 2 goals and Chris Mason earning his 9th career shutout.
The 09-10 season started out with a nail-biter in Dallas that would go to a shootout. Dan Ellis kept the Predators in the game with 38 out of 40 shots stopped and who could forget the sweet five hole shot by Santorelli to seal the win for the Predators.
The 10-11 season got started off right with a 4-1 drubbing of the Anaheim Ducks where Steve Sullivan had a two-point night and a kerfuffle left Rinne reeling at the beginning of the third period to be relieved by Anders Lindback who would go on to play the next 7 games for the injured Rinne posting an amazing 4-0-3 record.
Last season started with the Predators playing two road games back to back which two of my best friends were lucky enough to attend and get their faces plastered on T.V. for their efforts. Against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Predators would hang on to win 3-2 with Ryan Suter having a multi-point night and rookie Craig Smith netting his first NHL goal. Rinne also reportedly played through the flu as this was a sign to come for the “flu” being the reason for exemplary play in a game (see: Kevin Klein flu).