The Nashville Predators don’t have far to go to reach the bottom of the Western Conference standings. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that they don’t have to go far from very often between now and the end of the season.
Thursday’s game against Calgary (7 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee) is the start of a closing stretch in which the Predators will play 12 of their final 18 games at Bridgestone Arena.
Twice between now and the April 27 season finale they will play four straight at home and one other time they will have three in a row at home. No remaining road trips will last longer than two games.
The differences between the Predators’ play at home and on the road are pretty clear:
• They average 2.5 goals per game at home and 2.1 goals per game on the road.
• The difference in goals against is particularly significant — 1.6 at home, 3.2 on the road.
• Nashville has scored twice as many power play goals at home (10) as it has allowed (five) but has given up more than twice as many (17) as it has scored (seven) on the road.
• Most important, they have earned 16 points in 12 home games, an average of 1.33 per contest. On the road they have earned 12 in 18 games, an average of 0.67 per outing.
Part of the difference can be explained by the fact that injury issues have mounted lately, when they played eight of their last 10 away from home.
Still, the hope is that a lot of time in familiar surroundings, combined with contests against some of the conference’s lower lights will make a difference that allows them to get back into the thick of the playoff picture. The next four home games, all within eight days, are against teams that as of the start of play Wednesday were, like Nashville, outside of the Western Conference’s top eight.
“Obviously, everybody is playing each other so [the pack] is going to move somewhere,” coach Barry Trotz said recently. “… The rest of our games are pretty well at home. We have a lot of home games. With no travel and home-ice advantage — you have the crowd, you have everything — we should be able to make up some points.”