Predators hockey has returned to Nashville, and there's a double serving to start.
The Preds begin their preseason schedule today with their annual doubleheader against the Florida Panthers with contests - at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. CT - from Bridgestone Arena.
It'll be the first time the Preds have been on the ice as a team since April, with rosters for both games set to have a mix of veteran skaters and those trying to prove themselves worthy of further opportunities as training camp rolls along. With 20 players dressed for each game - and 55 in total on the Nashville roster - a majority of the Preds will see action in one of the contests today in Nashville.
The preseason doubleheader just five days into training camp allows Predators coaches and management a chance to evaluate a majority of their players in a game situation relatively early on, a clear benefit of the schedule.
For those who will participate in one of the two outings today, it's simply a chance to get back the feel of the game after a long offseason - and a chance to collect a win in the process.
"It's just doing the little things," Preds forward Colin Blackwell said. "I know a lot of us haven't really played with each other in these mixed exhibition games, so it's going to be a lot of new faces, but it's the same game of hockey that we're trying to play. Just kind of doing the little things, the details they've been stressing, play really fast and hunt those pucks. If we do that, good things are going to happen."
Video: Irwin, Blackwell prepare for preseason
"For myself it's just keep getting better," Preds defenseman Matt Irwin said. "Executing plays while you're moving, realizing your first option is usually the good option, things like that, just getting back into game speed, game pace, be physical when it's important to and necessary."
Irwin and Blackwell will both participate in the 3:30 p.m. matchup today. Colton Sissons, Nick Bonino, Mattias Ekholm, Rem Pitlick, Rocco Grimaldi, Austin Watson and Philip Tomasino are also among those who will play in the early game.
Ryan Ellis, Kyle Turris, Craig Smith, Eeli Tolvanen, Dante Fabbro, Mikael Granlund, Egor Afanasyev and Juuse Saros are all scheduled to participate in the 7 p.m. contest.
Full Preds rosters for both games may be seen here.
Last Time Out:
The Preds hosted a Blue & Gold scrimmage on Sunday afternoon at Ford Ice Center, with the teams playing to a 2-2 draw. Defenseman Frederic Allard and forward Eeli Tolvanen tallied for Team Blue, while forward Rocco Grimaldi and defenseman Adam Smith were responsible for Team Gold's markers. Tolvanen and Grimaldi scored on penalty shots, and Juuse Saros was perfect in his half of the scrimmage for Team Blue.
Saros, Connor Ingram, Troy Grosenick and Ken Appleby all had solid showings in net for the Preds; each of them took one of the two 25-minute halves for their respective sides.
The Preds are 9-4-(3)-2 all-time in preseason play against the Panthers dating back to Nashville's inaugural season in 1998-99.
When You Go:
Today's preseason contests at Bridgestone Arena are part of a celebration as hockey returns for the 2019-20 season. A Plaza Party begins at 11 a.m. CT on the arena plaza, complete with live music and food trucks to enjoy during the lunchtime hours. Click here for more on the preseason celebration.
ESPN 102.5 The Game will be broadcasting live at Pete and Terry's Tavern at the SoBro entrance of the arena from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT as part of the festivities.
Arena doors open at 2 p.m. CT ahead of the first game at 3:30 p.m.
Please note the updated Bridgestone Arena bag policy for the Predators' 2019-20 season:
Clear, clutch or no bags grant guests access to our Express Lanes. Bags that are made of solid material that fit within the 12-inch-by-12-inch-by-6-inch size requirement will be placed through an X-ray scanner upon entry. Backpacks and large bags are prohibited from Bridgestone Arena. All items brought are subject to a security search. Diaper bags that fit within the guidelines of the approved bags will be permitted.
Watch & Listen:
Both games from Bridgestone Arena (3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. CT) may be heard on 102.5 The Game and the Preds Radio Network with Pete Weber and Hal Gill on the call. In addition, fans in the Predators television viewing area may watch a live stream on NashvillePredators.com. If you're experiencing blackout issues, it's recommended to try a different IP address (usually through a mobile device on cellular data).