Nashville thriving in strange playoffs

Home-ice has never been so meaningless. The record for home teams in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs: 8-11. Ouch.

It seemed like a bad omen for the Predators when, after fighting all season to secure home-ice in the first round, they were matched up with the Red Wings, a perennial Cup contender, one of the toughest teams to face on the road and a formidable road opponent. Throw in the wackiness of this season’s playoffs and it seems like a recipe for disaster.

However, Nashville has stood strong, winning one game at home (which is doing more than some teams with home-ice have been able to so far) and even snatching a game in Detroit, something that many hockey experts thought would not happen. A series that had seven-games written all over it is living up to the hype in only three games.

But could these playoffs be crazier? Everything we have come to expect has been turned on its head in just the first week of the playoffs. The Vancouver Canucks, the President’s Trophy winner for the second year running, could not win a game at home. The St. Louis Blues, a team that just a few weeks ago seemed like a front-runner for the Stanley Cup, dropped one at home. The Detroit Red Wings, after taking home-ice from the Predators with a win in Nashville, did the unthinkable and lost it right back at home. The Pittsburgh Penguins have been a calamity on ice.

So with everything crazy and actually favoring road teams and underdogs, maybe the Predators should be favored to win game four. And if they win the series, no one should be shocked. Then again, at this point, no result should be shocking. This is not a typical Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After typing that last paragraph, I had to do a double-take. What?! Favored to win game four? Sure, they have momentum from the latest victory and have proven they can win in Detroit, but it is still the Red Wings we’re talking about here. They still should be considered the most formidable opponent to face on the road. The fact that I could legitimately, even only for an instant, type (and believe) that paragraph is a testament to how crazy this first round has already been. The Predators weren’t even favored in the first two games in Bridgestone.

Perhaps things will return to normalcy, the Wings will come out aggressive and get that noisy crowd into the game, get a lead and hang on to it, putting the pressure on the Predators returning home to Nashville for a critical game five.

But with the way these playoffs have played out so far? I wouldn’t count on anything.