The Nashville Predators hope to celebrate a season-opening victory Saturday at Dallas. And they’ll have a sizable travel party, if they do get that opportunity.
Forwards Joel Ward, Jordin Tootoo and rookie Colin Wilson are all injured and unable to play but are going with the team to Dallas. So are other members of the organization, more than on a typical road trip.
“We’re going to take the whole staff,” coach Barry Trotz said following Friday morning’s workout at the team’s training facility. “We think it’s important we let everybody be a part of the first game. So we’ll have a dinner (Friday) night, tell some stories and go from there.”
The Predators are 4-6 all-time in season-openers. They only time they lost two in a row was in the first two seasons in team history – a 4-0 defeat against Florida in 1998-99 and a 2-0 loss to Los Angeles in 1999-00.
They were beaten 5-2 at St. Louis in their first game last season.
Whatever happens, the players and coaches will have plenty of time to digest it.
The next game is not until Thursday’s home-opener against Colorado. It’s one of only two times this season (not counting the Olympic break) Nashville has four full days between games.
“It’s almost like football – you have a lot of time,” Trotz said. “The good thing about our sport is that usually when the season gets rolling if you don’t have a good game you can get right back at it. If you do have a good game you (also) can get right back at it and hopefully build on something.
“Hopefully we’ll have a real solid effort. Both teams are going to try to do that – obviously – and try to get off on the right foot.”
• Trotz declined to name his starting goalie and said he would inform Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis of his decision during the afternoon flight to Dallas.
“They’re both good goalies,” Trotz said. “I don’t think we’ll make a wrong choice. It’s a really good situation. Some teams are looking at riding their No. 1 for 70 games. I think we have the luxury of (the fact that) both guys can play, and both guys can play at a high level.”
• Dallas becomes the first opponent Nashville will play more than once in a season-opener. The Predators opened the 2001-02 with a 4-1 loss to the Stars on the road.
Other opening opponents have been: Florida (1998-99), Los Angeles (1999-00), Pittsburgh (2000-01), Washington (2002-03), Anaheim (2003-04), San Jose (2005-06), Chicago (2006-07), Colorado (2007-08) and St. Louis (2008-09).
• Thirteen of the 21 players currently on the active roster also were on the roster for the first game of last season. That does not include Ward, who currently is on Injured Reserve.