We’re about to head into what might be the most unpredictable training camp in the over two decades of Nashville Predators history.
The Nashville Predators aren’t alone in entering what’s going to be a hard training camp to predict as the NHL gets ready for the 2020-21 season.
The last time an NHL games was played was September 28, 2020 when the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars to win the Stanley Cup Final in six games. It ended the bubble experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now the NHL enters territory with even bigger challenges as there will, at least initially, be no bubble environment. We’ve seen mass cancellations in other leagues due to the pandemic, and now it’s the NHL’s turn to attempt to have as normal of a season as possible.
Training camps are about to open, and opening night of the regular season will be here before we know it. Let’s get you up-to-date on everything you need to know.
Key Dates and Times
The seven teams that didn’t make the Stanley Cup Qualifiers will start training camp on New Year’s Eve:
- Anaheim Ducks (Western Division)
- LA Kings (Western Division)
- San Jose Sharks (Western Division)
- Detroit Red Wings (Central Division)
- New Jersey Devils (Eastern Division)
- Buffalo Sabres (Eastern Division)
- Ottawa Senators (North Division)
For the Nashville Predators, they’ll start training camp on January 3 with the rest of the NHL. It should be a very competitive training camp with so many new players on the roster.
The 2020-21 schedule has also been released for the Nashville Predators. They’ll open the regular season with a two-game set against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 14 and 16 at Bridgestone Arena.
Game times haven’t been announced yet. The Predators will open their season along with 20 other teams who will be in action on January 14.
A triple-header on national tv will be on January 13 with these three matchups:
Those three matchups should draw plenty of viewers with large fanbases and the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
A little surprised that the Dallas Stars, who took the Lightning to six games, aren’t being featured in the opening night triple-header.
Storylines for Predators training camp
The obvious big one is how will Head Coach John Hynes initially sort out the line combinations. Everyone is trying to predict, but honestly there’s no clear answer to this.
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Hynes is heading into his first full year as head coach of the Nashville Predators. He’s just the third head coach in franchise history after replacing Peter Laviolette in early January of last season.
There’s been a lot of roster turnover over the offseason, so seeing where Hynes puts the newcomers will be interesting to see unfold.
You also have some intriguing prospects who should get strong looks to get a starting role on opening night, most notably Philip Tomasino.
Tomasino is currently having a very strong showing at the 2021 World Junior Championships with Team Canada. In all likelihood he’ll be there until January 5 when the Gold Medal game occurs.
Can any of these prospects force Hynes’ hand to put them onto the starting roster over some seasoned veterans? That’s something we’ll be focused on.
Pekka Rinne is going to be a focal point of this season as he’s likely entering his final season with the Nashville Predators. He’s a player you think is never going to retire, but all good things eventually come to an end.
I’ll be intrigued to see how sharp Rinne looks in training camp and what coaches and teammates have to say. Juuse Saros is the main starter coming in, but Rinne should get plenty of starts in this condensed schedule.
Other notes about the season
There won’t be any preseason games to assess how the team is looking against another opponent. However many scrimmages they conduct within the team will be key.
You should expect players to really go at it hard to push their bodies to see where their respective games are at going against other NHL talent. They may be teammates, but it’s vital to find out where each player stands before January 14.
Hynes and his assistant coaches really have their work cut out for them to assess what they have quickly to find out the best lineup. You know what you have in the veterans like Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg and several others, but the newcomers will have to work their way in.
The team has also announced that no fans will be in attendance initially at Bridgestone Arena after originally there being reports that a limited number of fans would be able to attend.
We will keep you updated and all of the news out of training camp and how players are performing as the long wait for Predators hockey is almost over.