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Game Day: Blackhawks vs. Preds

by Brooks Bratten & Thomas Willis @PredsNHL / NashvillePredators.com

The wait is (almost) over.

Three weeks and a day after training camp for the 2016-17 Nashville Predators season officially opened, it's time once more for hockey in Middle Tennessee.

Opening Night in Smashville gets underway at 7 p.m. (CT) Friday at Bridgestone Arena when the Chicago Blackhawks come to town (NBCSN, 102.5 The Game) to begin what is the most anticipated season in Predators franchise history.

"Right from the get-go, we want to show everyone what kind of team we are, what kind of group we have and play the way we want to play," Captain Mike Fisher said. "We're a confident group that knows how good we are at hard work, and never gets outworked at home, so that's our goal."

While there will be plenty to watch for when the puck hits the ice for the first time, here are three things that may play a prevalent role in the final outcome.

Who Are You?

For 21 days, the Preds have worked to implement systems, review tactics and prepare for whatever may come their way throughout the season. There are some fresh faces in the lineup, but for the most part, the majority of the Preds' players have been on the roster for at least one season and know what to expect.

As far as Head Coach Peter Laviolette is concerned, it's simple as to what he's hoping to see out of his group.

"We've been working all training camp to try and establish some sort of an identity on how we want to play and who we are," Laviolette said. "Those are the drills that we do, the messages that we send, the video that we show, and it's repetitive at times, but we want to keep trying to have them embrace that. I'd really like to see that come through, because we feel like if we can play a certain way, we can win hockey games."

Video: The Preds' web team discusses opening night

The Debut:

He got into three preseason games, but Friday's opener marks the official debut in a Preds uniform for All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban, acquired in a summer blockbuster trade. Subban has skated with both Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm during the preseason, but it's been Josi who has slotted next to Subban during practice this week.

Subban registered two goals and two assists in three preseason outings, and Preds fans will be in for a treat when they see No. 76 work his magic up and down the ice.

 Video: Laviolette shares excitement on opening night

Home Cookin':

The Preds always appreciate the boost they get from their home crowd at Bridgestone Arena, but to open the season on Friday night against Chicago is something that may require a little extra from the faithful.

Basically, the atmosphere at 501 Broadway should rival those of playoff games past, and it may just factor into the final result by night's end.

"To get a rivalry in really quick, somebody in the division, somebody we have history with, it's big," forward Colin Wilson said. "To have them at home, I know our barn will be going, the fans will be into it, we'll be into it, and it's a good way to start."

Look and Listen:

Opening Night begins at 7 p.m. and can be see nationally on NBC Sports Network. The game can be heard on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network.

Projected Lineups: 

Predators Projected Lineup

Note: The Preds held an optional morning skate. The lines are based on recent practice rushes.

Forwards    
Filip Forsberg Ryan Johansen Kevin Fiala
Colin Wilson Mike Fisher James Neal
Viktor Arvidsson Mike Ribeiro Craig Smith
Miikka Salomaki Colton Sissons Calle Jarnkrok
Defense    
Roman Josi P.K. Subban  
Mattias Ekholm Ryan Ellis  
Anthony Bitetto Matt Carle  
Goaltenders    
Pekka Rinne Marek Mazanec  
Blackhawks Projected Lineup
Forwards    
Richard Panik Jonathan Toews Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin Artem Anisimov Patrick Kane
Tyler Motte Marcus Kruger Ryan Hartman
Vinnie Hinostroza Nick Schmaltz Jordin Tootoo
Defense    
Duncan Keith Niklas Hjalmarsson  
Michal Kempny Brent Seabrook  
Gustav Forsling Brian Campbell  
Goaltenders    
Corey Crawford Scott Darling  

When You Go:

Giveaway Items: Gold Rally Towel, courtesy of Nissan; LED "Fangcelet"

The festivities begin at noon on the Bridgestone Arena Plaza with the Golden Lunchbreak, including food trucks, music and visits from Preds personalities. The Nashville Predators Gold Walk begins at 4 p.m., and the Lee Company Plaza Party gets underway at 5 p.m., highlighted by a live performance from The Weeks. A full schedule of the pregame events is below.

Opening Night Schedule
Event Time (CT)
Twice Daily $15 Day of Game Tickets go Live on Preds App 10 a.m.
Golden Lunch Break with food trucks, music and more 12-2 p.m.
Player Gold Walk presented by Nissan 4-5 p.m.
Plaza Party presented by Lee Company begins, featuring The Weeks 5 p.m.
Bridgestone Arena doors open 5 p.m.
Be in your seats! 6:45 p.m.
Blackhawks vs. Predators 7 p.m.
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