It was guaranteed the moment the schedule was released that this would be the busiest April in Nashville Predators history.
Less than halfway through, it seems likely it will be the worst.
Having lost four straight Nashville is now 1-4-1 for the month, a stretch that already makes this the losingest final month of the season in more than a decade. It also has rendered the remaining seven games almost meaningless given that the Predators’ playoff hopes are now minimal at best.
“I think this whole year has been frustrating,” captain Shea Weber said. “It’s tough. Obviously, we’d like to win more games but we’re not winning. That’s frustrating. It’s tough to sit here and loses game after game and try to come up with something positive.”
There certainly have been many bright spots at a time when Nashville typically shines.
Typically, the regular season concludes within the first two weeks of April, which limits the amount of games to as little as three. This season’s schedule, altered by the lockout that delayed the start until mid-January, includes 13 Predators games.
Already, the five defeats this month are more than in the previous three Aprils, when they were a combined 8-2-1 and rolled into the playoffs. Last season they were a perfect 3-0-0 for the month.
The most April games Nashville played in previous seasons was nine in 2005-06, a season interrupted by an Olympic break. That year the Predators were 7-2-0 and made the playoffs.
In fact, all seven of the franchise’s playoff appearances were preceded by a winning April.
“I think everybody’s realistic here,” coach Barry Trotz said. “Everybody has to be realistic. The only thing we can hang our hat on right now is to try to win some hockey games. How you win them — you have to play extremely hard, you have to play within the system, you have to be committed. We don’t want any quit from anybody.”
The franchise record for April defeats is six, set back in the inaugural season of 1998-99 (2-6-0). Three years later the Predators finished 2-5-0-0. Since then, they never have lost more than three times in the month — until now.
They have been outscored 14-9 and have been shut out twice (both 1-0) defeats. Their only lead in the last four games lasted 2:43 before they allowed a game-tying goal. Fifty-five seconds after that they trailed.
“We have been scoring in bunches [this season],” goalie Pekka Rinne said. “There are games where we have scored five or six goals and then the next three games we go out and score three goals total.
“It is what it is right now but you still have to find a way to show up every night.”
Many more nights than usual, in this case. With the majority of the month remaining and the struggles continuing, it is impossible to ignore the potential for this to be a truly awful month.