Things could be worse for the Nashville Predators, although not much.
They have lost five of their first six games but three of those defeats have been in shootouts. They have been on the road for more than a week and have to play three more games before they get to come back home. They have been shutout twice in the last three outings and have averaged fewer than two goals per game overall.
Now they get the best. Last season’s best, that is.
Up next for Nashville is reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles on Thursday (9:30 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee). The sides come into the contest tied with five points apiece, just outside of the Western Conference’s top eight. The Kings, however, have played one fewer game.
In recent years the Predators have done some of their best work against teams basking in the glow of the Stanley Cup.
Over the last four seasons they are a combined 8-5-1 against the previous season’s champion. The breakdown:
2011-12: 0-0-1 against Boston
2010-11: 3-3-0 against Chicago
2009-10: 1-0-0 against Pittsburgh
2008-09: 4-2-0 against Detroit
The Kings have gotten the better of things with Nashville of late, having won three of four each of the last two seasons. In each case, though, they were a team that failed to make the playoffs in the previous season.
Now they carry the burden that comes with being the team every other franchise wants to beat. In that regard, they might be the best possible opponent for the Predators right now.