The Nashville Predators 2014-2015 regular season schedule has been unveiled by the NHL.
The 16th campaign in franchise history, the Predators will open their 82-game set at home for the second time in the last seven years. Led by head coach Peter Laviolette, in his first year with Nashville, the Predators will be seeking their first playoff appearance in the last three seasons.
Here are 10 things defining the Nashville Predators schedule:
1) Barry Trotz Re-union, January 16: The head coach of the Predators for 15 seasons and their first-ever bench boss, Barry Trotz and the Washington Capitals make an emotional return to Nashville. Predators fans will see firsthand how Washington winger Alex Ovechkin fits under Trotz’s more defensive style.
2) Leaving on a Jet Plane, October 29-November 8: An 12-day, six-game road trip might define the Predators season. Coming at such an early point in the campaign, the club’s performance away from Music City should go a long way in determining their playoff chances.
3) East Champs, February 7: Not only does a home date with the New York Rangers mean last season’s Eastern Conference Champions are in town, it also marks former Predators defenseman Kevin Klein‘s first game as an opponent in Bridgestone Arena. With the Klein and Michael Del Zotto trade happening in January, February’s game will be the first time both players take on their old clubs.
4) Blackhawk Invasion, October 23, December 6: Not just another Central Division rival, Blackhawks matchups mean an extra dose of red is present in Nashville. Last campaign, the Predators went 4-1 against Chicago (one of the West’s top squads), but thousands of Blackhawks fans made the contests in Nashville feel like Blackhawks home games.
5) Wild Card Foes, (5 vs. Wild, 3 at home. 5 vs. Stars, 3 at home): Minnesota and Dallas took the two West Wild Card slots last season. If Nashville is going to make the postseason for the first time in three seasons, they’ll likely need to pass at least one of these divisional rivals in the standings. The Stars finished three points ahead of the Predators in the 2013-2014 season.
6) Lavy in Philly, February 21: The second head coach in Predators history, Laviolette most recently managed the Flyers (who he took to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010). The City of Brotherly Love probably won’t be too welcoming of their old coach. It’s kind of their thing.
7) Home, Sweet Home, November 22-29, February 10-17: The Predators success in the regular season has traditionally corresponded with the state of their home record. The longest stretch of consecutive home contests is four-straight in both November and February, it will behoove Nashville to capture six out of a possible eight points in each of those sets.
8) Time to Beat the Best, November 25: Possessing two out of the last three Stanley Cups awarded, the Kings might have the best claim at being the first real hockey dynasty in the last decade or more. Nashville and L.A. usually play very tight, defensive games, the Predators get their first shot at the defending champs decently early in the season.
9) March of the Penguins, October 25: Pittsburgh will have a new coach of their own when they play Nashville in the season’s first month, but they’ll still have superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on their roster. Predators captain Shea Weber will be anxious for the opportunity to shutdown two of the game’s best scorers.
10) Push for the Playoffs, (4 games in April): Starting at least in April (if not sooner), the home stretch of the regular season should be vitally important for Nashville. The club plays four out of their last six games at home.
The October 9 faceoff means we’re 109 days away from another edition of Predators hockey. On Tuesday, watch (on NBCSN) as Predators captain Shea Weber tries for the third time to bring home his first Norris Trophy. The NHL Awards get under way in Las Vegas at 6:00 p.m. (CST).