The Nashville Predators TV schedule for the 2013 season was announced today. The revolution may not be televised, but every game the Preds play in the shortened season will be.
FOX Sports Tennessee, the regular home for Predators hockey, will air the bulk of the games – 43 of them, in fact. Another three games will air on FSTN’s sister network, SportSouth. The games on both of those networks will be called by the superstar duo of Pete Weber and Terry Crisp, who have both been with Nashville since the very beginning.
The Preds will also get two games on national TV via the NHL’s deal with NBC Sports Network. That’s the channel formerly known as Versus, and before that known as the Outdoor Life Network, but always known as Not ESPN, Why Oh Why Can’t Hockey Get Coverage On ESPN.
The first of the NBC games will take place here in Nashville on February 25th against the Dallas Stars. The Stars are a mix of up-and-coming players like Jamie Benn and players who were up-and-coming when EA Sports’ classic hockey video game NHL 94 was originally released, like Jaromir Jagr.
It’s the second NBC game that Nashville Predators fans will really be looking forward to: the April 14th game against the Detroit Red Wings, newly captained by Henrik Zetterberg and hoping to overcome the departure of his predecessor, Nicklas Lidstrom. That game is one of two Nashville against the Detroit during a crucial April schedule that sees Nashville play its division rivals nine times.
The choices for which games to show nationally make sense. In the realignment plan approved by the NHL and rejected by the players prior to the lockout, Dallas and Nashville were included in the same conference together. Realignment is coming eventually, so with a long-term NHL contract in hand, NBC is setting themselves up for rivalry coverage down the line. As for Preds-Wings, that’s a rivalry that’s already vibrant and has produced some excellent TV games in the past few years. In fact, last year’s playoff clincher against Detroit drew the Preds’ highest-ever local TV ratings. There will be also be a lot riding on that game for both teams, which ought to make things that much more dramatic.