The Nashville Predators continue their five-game Western Conference swing tonight in the Mile High City with a date against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. It's the first of five meetings between the two Central Division foes, with the Preds looking for their first win of the current trip.
"We need to play better than what we've been playing," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "Whatever we're doing, it's not good enough. I thought the urgency at the end of the game [against San Jose] was better than the beginning of the game; we need to come out urgent to win a hockey game."
Viktor Arvidsson leads the Preds in goals and points - four and six - through eight games this season. Filip Forsberg (5a), P.K. Subban (2g-3a) and Roman Josi (1g-4a) have five points apiece; Mike Fisher has tallied three power-play goals thus far. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has gone 1-4-0 in six starts on the campaign.
Matt Duchene paces the Avalanche in goals (5) and points (7) through eight games, followed by Nathan MacKinnon with six points. Joe Colborne has found the back of the net three times for Colorado; netminder Semyon Varlamov is 2-3-0 on the season.
The Preds held an optional morning skate at Pepsi Center. Forward Cody Bass will be activated off of injured reserve in advance of tonight's game.
Video: The Preds make stop No. 4 in a five-game road trip
There are plenty of reasons the Nashville Predators could be frustrated with their 2-5-1 start to the season.
They're not at all content with their place in the standings and know there is room for improvement. But at the same time, they enter tonight's game against the Colorado Avalanche without feeling too down on themselves, and there's a good reason for that.
"The last two games, [we haven't had] the greatest bounces, and at the same time, it still hasn't been our best effort," winger Colin Wilson said. "I think when we go back to our first two games against Chicago, we just have to go back to that, the confidence, the will to win. The best part about it is - it's fixable. It'd be a lot worse if we didn't have the guys in the room to change it, so we just have to change the attitude a little bit."
The personnel on the roster also believe this early stretch is simply one of the downs that every team seems to go through at some point during the season.
"You can't get too frustrated," defenseman Roman Josi said. "We all know what we can do and everybody in here goes through a hole or whatever in every year in his career, so it's just how you come out of it. We need to stick together as a team and stick to the plan and come out of it."
So how do they do that? According to Head Coach Peter Laviolette, the answer is simple.
"We need to play a complete game, 60 minutes of being mentally sharp, physically sharp, doing the right things," Laviolette said. "It comes from a good start, it come from a good finish and the middle has to be equally as good… Just having a complete game, having a game that is consistent would be what we need in order to complete the ultimate goal."
Here are three things to watch for tonight as the Preds take on the Avs:
It's Simple, Really:
The Preds have two games remaining on their current road trip - tonight against the Avalanche and Thursday in Arizona - and a potential 2-2-1 record on the excursion doesn't sound too bad. But in order for that to happen, Nashville needs to do something they've only been able to accomplish twice this season.
"We need to see a win," center Mike Ribeiro said. "It doesn't matter how, obviously the effort has to be there, but you need to find ways to win games and that's the bottom line. We still have two games left in this road trip and if you had a bad start like we've had, you win those last two, you get out of here with a .500 record. You want to look at it like that more than what happened in the past."
Don't Bring Me Down:
While each of the last three losses away from home have undoubtedly been frustrating, the club knows that negative energy won't do a thing to improve their record. Rather, the early season adversity is something the Preds are hoping to channel into wins.
"A couple of bounces here or there and the results are a little different," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "I still think that we can do more, and we can be better and sharper in ways, but ultimately I think every game we're getting better and better, which is a great sign. For our hockey club, that's what we need to focus on."
Find No. 9:
Matt Duchene has tallied five times for the Avs - including twice in their 3-2 win over the Coyotes last Saturday - the second-highest total among NHL players this season. Duchene's offensive outputs this season have all come in bursts, with multi-point games each time he's found the back of the net. The Preds could do themselves a favor if they're able to keep Duchene off the scoresheet.
Take It In:
Tonight's 8 p.m. (CT) puck drop can be seen on Fox Sports Tennessee, with the Predators Live! pregame show beginning at 7:30 with Willy Daunic, Stu Grimson and Lyndsay Rowley. Radio broadcasters Pete Weber and Brent Peterson will have the call on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network.