The Long and Winding Road: Preds head on longest trip in team history

The Predators kick off a seven-game 17-day road trip tonight with a game in Glendale, Ariz. against the Phoenix Coyotes.

The trip — a byproduct of the Country Music Association taking over Bridgestone Arena for their annual awards — is the longest in team history. It includes games on both coasts and in four time zones.

The Predators have taken an extended road trip for the CMA Awards every season since 2006 (except for last season, which did not begin until January because of the lockout) and have had a pretty good amount of success, despite the difficult circumstance of playing a bevy of road games relatively early in the season.

The Predators overall record for the CMA Trip is 18-12-1. The team has had a winning record on the trip three times, an even .500 twice and a losing record just once:

2006: 4-1-0
2007: 4-1-0
2008: 3-3-0
2009: 2-2-0
2010: 1-4-0
2011: 4-1-1

In the three times the Predators have "won" the road trip, the team has had a winning record over their next 10 games twice. The one exception was 2011, when the team went 4-4-2, .500 by virtue of the overtime/shootout loss point.

Winning the trip, obviously, improves the team's playoff chances — as do any wins. The web site SportsClubStats uses multiple simulations to calculate playoff probability percentages every day of the season. The Predators improved those chances with each winning road trip — again, obviously — and hurt them in the other three seasons.

The biggest jump came in 2007, when a 4-1-0 road trip helped turn around a slow 4-6-0 start and boosted the Preds' playoff percentage from 21.7 to 59.4 percent, and they followed the trip with a 5-3-2 run in the subsequent 10 games. The biggest dip? In 2010. After starting the season 5-1-3, the Predators went 1-4-0 on the trip, their percentage dropping more than 35 points. In the nine games after the trip, the Preds went a mediocre 3-4-2.

The other difference in 2007 and 2010. The Preds missed the playoffs in the first and made it in the second.

The moral: while the road trip may be an important chapter in the season, it's hardly the whole story.