The Predators would've been excited enough to return home to Nashville after a 10-day trip that spanned four time zones. After collecting just three out of a possible eight points, the desire to sleep in their own beds once more became even higher.
The longest road trip of the season to this point didn't go as planned for the Predators. After they rattled off six goals in Detroit to get things started way back on Nov. 4, losses in Colorado, San Jose and Vancouver followed, with the result against the Sharks coming in a shootout.
So, as the Predators prepare to return to Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night to host the Chicago Blackhawks, they do so not only content to be back in their own building, but they're also eager to bring their first three-game skid of the young season to a screeching halt.
"We were all just looking forward to getting home, and having these two days of practice will be beneficial for our group right now," Preds center Ryan Johansen said Friday at Centennial Sportsplex. "We've been able to work on a few of the details we thought we were lacking on that road trip, and then going into Saturday and just looking to get back on track. It's always fun playing in our building, always fun playing the Hawks and we're just preparing right now to make sure that we execute a great game."
Those two consecutive practice days - a rarity at any point in the season - should help matters, as the Predators were able to work on a myriad of elements during the pair of sessions. As far as the recent results are concerned, it goes both ways. There are parts of the game the Predators are still pleased with, and other aspects could use some improved execution.
"There's a bunch of things you like within the game, but there's things you can always be improving on, and that's kind of where we're at right now," Preds forward Austin Watson said. "We don't feel like we're doing anything too uncharacteristic or making these big mistakes or anything, it's just these little details that we need to sharpen up on. If we're making sure we do that Saturday, we should set ourselves up for success, no problem."
For example, Watson says Nashville's last two periods in Vancouver on Tuesday night were ones to build on. When both clubs were at full strength, Watson believes his club dictated a majority of the play and forcing the Canucks to play the way the Predators want to.
Of course, it didn't show on the scoreboard at the end of the night, and that's where it matters most. But the "stick to the process" cliché works perfectly in this scenario, and the Predators know when they play to their capability, they're going to be successful more often than not.
"It's a long season, 82 games, and you're going to lose some hockey games," Watson said. "It's definitely no reason to panic, but obviously we all want to be better. Nobody was happy with the way that the road trip turned out as far as wins and losses, and we have a great opportunity coming back home here, playing a division game with Chicago, and it's exciting to be back and get back on the right track."
Nobody likes losing, but this League is simply too good for every team to avoid any sort of adversity at some point during the season. The Preds have received their first true taste of it as of late, but Saturday night provides an ideal chance to reverse the trend.
"I don't know if I've ever been in a season without losing a few games in a row," Johansen said. "It's a long year, and you're playing a lot of good teams with good players. We've just got to make sure that we're staying as consistent as possible with how we want to play. So when you have those little those little lapses within your system, you can deal with them. That's why these two days of practice are beneficial - we can just sharpen things back up, polish it up and then go back out there and do what we need to do."