Last season, the Nashville Predators shocked the entire NHL after knocking out the Chicago Blackhawks in four games during the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on route to their franchise’s first career Stanley Cup Final appearance. Although the Predators ended up losing in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins, it became apparent that people from Middle Tennessee loved hockey. This materialized not only into fans filling the streets but by selling out countless playoff games. Since this historic postseason run, Nashville Predators fans have been anticipating the start of next season. Now, with the start of the 2017-2018 NHL campaign just under two months away, we here at Last Word on Preds have decided to create a list of the top five Nashville Predators games for every fan to watch.
Five Must Watch Nashville Predators Games this Season
The Rematch – Saturday, October 7th
In game two of the season, the Nashville Predators will make their way east to Pennsylvania to take on the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins defeated the Predators in six games in the Stanley Cup Final while on the road in Nashville. On October 7th, the Predators will get their first shot at redemption against the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena, a place where they went winless in the Final. Not only will this game be important for the Predators organization as a whole, but for Nick Bonino. The contest will mark Bonino’s return to Pittsburgh after finding success with the Pens the two previous years. On July 1st, David Poile signed Bonino to a four-year, $14.6 million deal to join the Predators in an effort to solidify the team down the middle. This will surely be a game you will not want to miss.
A Moment to Remember – Tuesday, October 10th
The Predators will return to Bridgestone Arena for the first time since the Final as they face off against the Philadelphia Flyers on October 10th.
This year’s home opener will be a night like no other for Nashville fans, players, and other members of the organization as they honour their Western Conference championship with a banner-raising ceremony. After becoming an expansion team and joining the NHL for the 1998-99 season, the Predators had their best season to date last year. Although the team had an average regular season, their postseason run was not. The Predators began the Stanley Cup Playoffs by sweeping a Cup favourite in the Chicago Blackhawks. They would then go out to defeat the St Louis Blues in six games and then the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final.
Welcome Home – Friday, December 8th
Neal joined Nashville after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Patric Hornqvist in June 2014. In three seasons in Tennessee, Neal would play 219 games recording 77 goals and 59 assists. With Neal’s solid offensive production lost, it will be interesting to see who fills his void this season. This game will also be the first time the Golden Knights and Predators square off. A month later, the Predators will make their first trip to Nevada to play the NHL’s newest team on January 2nd.
The Rivalry Continues – Saturday, October 14th
The Nashville Predators will play the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center in the first of four games between the Central Division rivals.
Since the Preds joined the NHL, they have played the Chicago Blackhawks a franchise record 105 times. Heading into this season, the Blackhawks hold a slight edge of one more win in the career head-to-head record. This rivalry has been building over the last number of years as both teams continue to meet in meaningful games. This includes both teams meeting in the playoffs three times since 2010. Chicago took the first two series, but as all Predator fans will remember, the Preds swept the number one seed last year. This most recent series will definitely lead to some passionate hockey this season. Also, it will be interesting to see how this game and season series rounds out after Nashville added new faces and Chicago brought back former players. Every Predators vs Blackhawks game is a must watch.
Bench Boss – Saturday, March 31st.
Housley will replace Dan Bylsma, who was fired at the conclusion of the season. The Sabers 18th head coach made a name for himself as Peter Laviolette‘s assistant coach by helping to grow the Preds defensive core into the elite group that it is today. Housley also built his coaching reputation by leading the U.S. World Juniors team to a gold medal. Prior to becoming a coach, Housley spent 21 seasons in the league as a defenseman, the first eight of them being in Buffalo.
For the Nashville Predators complete schedule visit NHL.com