The Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators are trying to regroup, for different reasons, as they prepare for the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1 (2 p.m. ET; NBC, TVAS, SN).
In the first episode of the three-part docuseries "Road to the Winter Classic," which premieres at 6 p.m. ET in Canada on SN1 on Saturday, and at 10:30 p.m. ET in the United States on NBCSN on Monday, cameras take viewers behind the scenes in Dallas and Nashville for an all-access look at where each team is heading into the outdoor game at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.
The Stars are adjusting under new coach Rick Bowness, who took over after Jim Montgomery was fired on Dec. 10. It's a tough situation, but the Stars have recovered after a 1-7-1 start to the season and want to continue the recent success that has put them back into a Western Conference wild card spot in the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Video: Bowness on his Corvette, evolution of the NHL
"You have to be professionals," Bowness says. "No one expected what happened, no one saw it coming, but we all signed up to be a coach or a player, and when it comes to game time, you've got to prepare. No distractions, no excuses, just get ourselves ready to play. There are times to deal with it and time not to deal with it. When you come to the rink, it's not the time to deal with it. You go away from the rink, deal with whatever you want. When we come here it's all business, business as usual. Its' a very busy time and we just have to get dialed in here."
In Nashville, Predators coach Peter Laviolette heads to Bridgestone Arena to prepare for the Dec. 10 game against the San Jose Sharks. The Predators are 3-5-2 in their previous 10 games.
"Would we like to be first overall in the League? Yeah. Would we like to win the Western Conference? Yeah. Would we like to be [Central] Division champs? Yeah," Laviolette says before the Predators defeated the Sharks 3-1. "[Being] .500 doesn't get you into the playoffs; that won't be good enough. So you start to really bear down inside the room."
Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis spends an off day at Nashville Zoo with his wife and three daughters -- and has a run-in with a goat. Forward Ryan Johansen enjoys some time in his backyard golf oasis with his housemates, forward Colton Sissons and defenseman Dante Fabbro.
Video: Predators teammates talk Winter Classic while golfing
"I'm really working on trying to get my mom to put on a pair of skates and take a couple of laps the day or two prior [to the Winter Classic]," Johansen says. "But it's going to be special for all of us."
The Stars travel to Nashville and defeat the Predators 4-1 at Bridgestone Arena on Dec. 14, their first game since Dallas eliminated Nashville in six games the Western Conference First Round in April. The Winter Classic is two weeks away, but Bowness doesn't consider the victory necessary to set the tone for the outdoor game.
"Not too worried about that," he says. "That's another game, and it'll be fun for everybody."
In addition to airing on NBCSN and SN1, full episodes will also appear on NHL Network and will be available for viewing on NHL.com, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. The series also will air outside North America via the League's international broadcast partners.