Are the Nashville Predators the best team in the West? That’s debatable, but it’s tough to deny that they might be the most underrated in that brutal conference.
One thing we can’t debate: as of the end of tonight, they’re sitting alone atop the West, only looking up at the Montreal Canadiens in the overall standings.
Nashville’s now 7-1-1 after holding on for a tough road win against the San Jose Sharks, prevailing 2-1.
Nashville will be a tougher team to deny if they keep grinding out wins during the four-game road trip they began on Wednesday.
They go to Los Angeles Saturday, Anaheim on Sunday and then wrap it up with a Nov. 5 contests against Minnesota.
After that, it’s an opportunity to stack points with a five-game homestand.
So, what’s the explanation for Nashville’s success?
Most obviously, Pekka Rinne‘s been looking like a $7 million goalie and that defense remains impressive.
James Neal and Filip Forsberg also stand as one of the league’s better under-the-radar duos. Those forces (not to mention timely scoring from their supporting cast) help explain their early +10 goal differential.
In more precise terms, they’re starting games off the way you win games. They haven’t allowed a first-period goal in 2015-16 and have scored the first goal of eight of their nine contests.
At some point, they’ll face more adversity … and it’s fair to point out that quite a few of their wins came against the East.
Still, you can only win the games in front of you, and the Predators are doing just that so far.