With the increased intensity in this year's Western Conference playoff race, is it possible for teams to lose focus against a lesser opponent and be stung by the proverbial "trap" game?
This season seems to be a little bit of a different beast. With so many teams in the conference playing at such a high level, it is difficult to believe that a team would not be focused on being point collectors in every game, regardless of the opponent or circumstance.
Predators coach Barry Trotz was asked if today's game against the New York Islanders (16-20-6, 14th place in the East) would be considered a "trap" game.
"We're going to talk about it. Is it a trap game? Maybe, maybe not, I don't really know. I think the guys recognize that we're going on the road and just need points. At the same time you have to always respect your opponent. I think we've learned that lesson a couple of times this year."
In the Western Conference, where all fifteen clubs are good teams (except for maybe Columbus), there really are no glaring traps lying in wait. In retrospect, the Predators' worst losses of the season may have been at home against Buffalo, the home overtime loss to the Jackets, and a pair of losses to Edmonton.
Trotz started the education process on the Islanders while studying film with the squad in preparation for Saturday's game with the Flyers. The Flyer's previous game was with the Islanders so they got to see both teams at the same time.
"I was telling the guys yesterday, that the Islanders, that they were watching because they had just played each other, probably deserved to win that game."
Trotz gave a quick preview of what he expects to see from the Islanders this afternoon.
"The Islanders are a young club. Offensively, they are very good up front. They have a good power play and can hurt you. They may be a little under the radar but we are going to have to play our game, plain and simple."
Today's game is a special MLK holiday matinee with a Noon CST puck drop at the Nassau County Veterans Coliseum. The game will be shown locally on FS-TN and can be heard on the Predator Radio Network.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass