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7 Critical Characteristics of the Predators 2016-17 Schedule

by Thomas Willis / Nashville Predators

In a sense, the release of a new NHL schedule can feel like a mix of Christmas morning and the first day of school. Excitement and tentative forecasting intermingle as a team and its fans learn what lies between them and a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and ultimately, an opportunity at the greatest prize in sports.

Mere months after pushing further into the postseason than ever before, the Nashville Predators are ready to embark on the 19th campaign in franchise history, filled with promise that 2016-17 may very well be the most memorable season yet.

See the Predators full 2016-17 regular season schedule by clicking here.

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1. Smashville vs. Windy City

For the third consecutive regular season, the Predators will celebrate an Opening Night at Bridgestone Arena. This time, however, the opponent is a bit more familiar. Arguably Nashville’s greatest rival, and recent playoff foe in 2015, the Chicago Blackhawks visit Smashville to kick off 2016-17 on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. (All times are CT unless indicated). The Central Division foes then turn right around and face off again, this time in Chicago, to complete the season-opening, back-to-back set on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m.

The Predators close out the regular-season campaign in Winnipeg on April 8, ending a stretch of two-straight years of concluding in Dallas. Nashville does fly to Big D for their penultimate contest of 2016-17, a Thursday night showdown on April 6.

2. Playoff Rematches

The Preds renewed postseason acquaintances with the Ducks in 2016, five years removed from topping Anaheim in six games to claim the franchise’s first playoff series win. Nashville prevailed in their first-ever Game Seven this spring, taking out the Ducks a second time. Shea Weber and the Preds find themselves back out in Anaheim early in the season, visiting the Honda Center on Oct. 26 in conjunction with the club’s first of two West Coast swings. The Ducks visit Music City on Saturday, Nov. 12, before the regular-season series concludes in Southern California on March 7.

A second Game Seven in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs saw the Predators come up short to the eventual Western Conference Champion San Jose Sharks. Tennessee's NHL team will surely be chomping at the bit to revenge their unfavorable playoff outcomes at the Sharks’ SAP Center, and they’ll have the chance to do just that on Oct. 29. The Sharks will wait until Saturday, March 25 to pay their single visit to Bridgestone Arena; the teams will also collide in Northern California two weeks prior on March 11.

3. Joey Heads Home

The biggest blockbuster trade of 2015-16 belonged to the Preds and Columbus Blue Jackets with center Ryan Johansen joining Nashville in exchange for blueliner Seth Jones. Johansen will make his initial return trek to Ohio and Nationwide Arena on Sunday, Feb. 19, where he spent the first five years of his career, registering close to 200 points and stealing the spotlight during the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus.

The Vancouver, British Columbia, native paced the Blue Jackets in points in 2013-14 with 63 (including 33 goals) and tallied 71 points a season later with Columbus.

Jones will make his second trip to Nashville as a Blue Jacket on Thursday, Jan. 26.

4. Centrally Located

The division-heavy schedule used by the NHL, combined with a playoff format that often pits division rivals versus one another in the first round, means that attention usually goes to when a team will clash with their closest competitors. Nashville’s involvement - in what is likely hockey’s toughest grouping - only adds to the weight of the 35 percent of their regular season schedule that will be spent challenging others in the Central Division.

A Central Division-heavy December confronts the Predators, who will take on their intra-divisional foes seven times in the final month of 2016. Nashville also ends their 2016-17 schedule with four of their last five contests against the Central.

Chicago Blackhawks: Five games - Three home, two away

  • Chicago - Friday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.
  • @Chicago - Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Chicago - Thursday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.
  • @Chicago - Sunday, Jan. 8 at 6 p.m.
  • Chicago - Saturday, March 4 at 7 p.m.

Colorado Avalanche: Five games - Two home, three away

  • @Colorado - Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m.
  • @Colorado - Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 8 p.m.
  • Colorado - Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.
  • @Colorado - Saturday, Jan. 14 at 2 p.m.
  • Colorado - Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.

Dallas Stars: Five games - Three home, two away

  • Dallas - Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.
  • Dallas - Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m.
  • @Dallas - Thursday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Dallas - Sunday, Feb 12 at 5 p.m.
  • @Dallas - Thursday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Minnesota Wild: Five games - Three home, two away

  • Minnesota - Thursday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.
  • Minnesota - Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 7 p.m.
  • @Minnesota - Sunday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m.
  • @Minnesota - Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.
  • Minnesota - Saturday, April 1 at 1 p.m.

St. Louis Blues: Five games - Two home, three away

  • St. Louis - Thursday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
  • @St. Louis - Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.
  • St. Louis - Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.
  • @St. Louis - Friday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m.
  • @St. Louis - Sunday, April 2 at 5 p.m.

Winnipeg Jets: Four games - Two home, two away

  • Winnipeg - Friday, Nov. 25 at 5 p.m.
  • @Winnipeg - Sunday, Nov. 27 at 5 p.m.
  • Winnipeg - Monday, March 13 at 7 p.m.
  • @Winnipeg - Saturday, April 8 at 6 p.m. (Regular-season finale)

5. Bye Week Breeds Back to Backs

Slipped in with negotiations for changing the NHL All-Star Game in Nashville to a 3-on-3 tournament was the granting of a five-day bye week to each team for the 2016-17 regular season. Each bye week will come between Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 and consist of five consecutive days without games or practice unless the team has a game on the day following their bye.

The Predators bye week comes Feb. 13 to 17, leading to a home back-to-back with Florida (Saturday, Feb. 11 at 1 p.m.) and Dallas (Sunday, Feb. 12 at 5 p.m.) prior to the break. After five days off, the Preds will then play another back-to-back pairing, this time on the road, with a date in Minnesota (Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.) and Ryan Johansen’s return to Columbus on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 5 p.m.

Also leading to a jammed-packed regular season is the return of the World Cup of Hockey after a dozen-year absence. The eight-team tournament in Toronto will push the start of the regular season for the Preds back to Oct. 14, but with the campaign still ending on the traditional second weekend in April, Nashville will play 13 back-to-back sets in 2016-17 in order to squeeze in 82 games across six month’s time.

Predators Back-to-Back Games in 2016-17:

Opponent/Opponent Dates:
Chicago/@Chicago October 14-15
@Detroit/Pittsburgh October 21-22
@Anaheim/@Los Angeles October 26-27
New Jersey/Philadelphia December 3-4
@Philadelphia/@New Jersey December 19-20
Chicago/@St. Louis December 29-30
@Tampa Bay/@Florida January 5-6
@Calgary/@Edmonton January 19-20
Florida/Dallas February 11-12
@Minnesota/@Columbus February 18-19
Washington/Edmonton February 25-26
@New York Islanders/@Boston March 27-28
Minnesota/@St. Louis April 1-2

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6. One Place or Another

The Predators’ longest road trips of the season come at the expected times with the club jetting off to the West Coast in late October for games in Anaheim (Oct. 26), L.A. (Oct. 27), San Jose (Oct. 29), Colorado (Nov. 1) and Arizona (Nov. 3). The Preds head back to California for three consecutive games in early March, but actually match their longest road trip at five with contests in the northwest from Jan. 14 to 22 (Colorado, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Minnesota).

Nashville also travels to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit for the final time on Oct. 21 and visits the new Rogers Place in Edmonton for the inaugural time on Jan. 20.

Known for the past decade to hold one of the fiercest home crowds in the League, the Preds’ 2016-17 schedule promises two occasions of four-straight games at home. First, Smashville will host a four-game home stand beginning on Nov. 5 and running until Nov. 12, with the Hurricanes, Senators, Blues and Ducks visiting Bridgestone Arena. The next four-contest home stand comes at the end of February when Calgary (Feb. 21), Colorado (Feb. 23), Washington (Feb. 25) and Edmonton (Feb. 26) come to town.

7. Saving the Best for First

A 7-1-1 start to the 2015-16 campaign played a huge factor in the Predators later qualifying for the playoffs last season, but jumping out to a similar pace in 2016-17 won’t be easy. Of Nashville’s eight games in October, all of them are against clubs which reached the 2016 postseason and five of them are on the road.

The team from Music City will host the 2016 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins on October 22 at 7 p.m., fresh off their final visit to Joe Louis Arena the night before. A week later, the Predators visit the other member of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final as they travel to San Jose on Oct. 29. Three weeks of only facing recent playoff teams, including rematches against both of their playoff opponents from 2016 (Anaheim and San Jose), is quite the way to start 2016-17.

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Check out the Nashville Predators full 2016-17 regular season schedule here.


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