With the 2013-14 season schedule out, it is time for overanalyzing and trying to pick which games will be the most important this season. With the new divisions and story lines, we picked out five of the most intriguing games for the Predators this season.
Minnesota vs. Nashville – October 8
There are home openers. And then there are home openers. Last time these two teams met in Bridgestone Arena, boos rained down on No. 20 every time he stepped on the ice. Please don’t think that Ryan Suter has been forgiven for leaving Nashville on bad terms. (And please don’t forgive him if you are on the fence.)
The Bridgestone will not only be rocking because its a new season, but the Predators brand new rival from the Central Division (or conference) will be visiting. Hopefully, fans will boo Suter as loudly as they did last time. Never forget.
Dallas vs. Nashville – December 12
I’ve said from the beginning that Nashville’s rival should be Dallas after the incident on March 12. Although there has not been any buzz to come from that, Nashville’s style of play could match up well with the Stars, creating strong games for a solid rivalry.
What’s odd about this game is that this will be the first game between these two teams in the 2013-14 season, even though we will be two months into the season. If Dallas is the team that Nashville will be jockeying for that last playoff spot, scheduling the games for later in the season adds intensity to the playoff race.
What should you look for in this game? Each team wants to set a tone for the division race and they will be doing that while feeling each other out as division opponents. Dallas has a new look to them, not only in uniforms, but in personnel also. We won’t know what to expect until this game comes around.
Tampa Bay vs. Nashville – February 27
If there is any advantage to not having top-six forwards on your hockey team, it is the fact that your depth players can catch a breather during the Olympics. We don’t know how many players Nashville will be sending to Sochi, but the first game after the Winter Olympics may feel like the start of a new season. That game will be at Nashville against the Tampa Bay Lightning. If the Preds send only a few players, we see how the players use the rest to their advantage. If not, then the Preds will have to find a way to regroup. Luckily for the Predators, only a couple of their key players may represent their country.
Chicago vs. Nashville – April 12
Nashville’s home finale will be against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s a tough matchup for the Predators, but it may be crucial in deciding where, or if, they will be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It will be a tall order for the Predators to win their last regular season home game, but they just might need to in order to have a good seed.
Nashville vs. Minnesota – April 13
This final game seems like a prediction from the NHL of who will be fighting for seeding or a final playoff spot. Whatever the case, this should be a game that decides seeding in some way. The Wild will have the home ice advantage for this game, and they will also face a Nashville team tired from the previous night with Chicago. The Wild may come out ahead if Chicago wears the Predators down on the 12th.