The schedule is out and it’s time for the annual schedule review… 2019-20 could be a pivotal season for the Nashville Predators after the disappointment of a first round exit, the two time defending Central Division champ will head into the new season looking very different.
Nashville opens and closes their season at home, both games against the Minnesota Wild. The team starts with four consecutive home games. Start times for home games remain at 7pm with a few exceptions. A matinee on Saturday, November 2nd against the Rangers, a 5:30pm start for the Saturday, Dec 14 game against Dallas and a 5pm start against St. Louis on Sunday, February 16. There doesn’t appear to be an obvious NBC slot on the schedule as it stands right now, beyond the Winter Classic of course… but game times can change. The Preds play 62 of their games on Tuesday Thursday and Saturday… there is a rare Friday home game on December 27th as part of a back-to-back, home-and-home against Pittsburgh.
So… let’s take a look at the schedule by month.
October (9h, 4a) - Nashville begins the schedule with a four game homestand, a chance to get off to a great start and establish their home ice advantage as they take on the Wild, Red Wings, Sharks and Capitals. An early western swing starts in LA after that, with stops in Vegas and Arizona before returning home for three in a row and five of the next seven inside the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena. Florida, Anaheim and Minnesota hit town before the Preds go to Tampa and then return home to finish October with Chicago and a Halloween night game against Calgary.
November (6h, 7a) – November begins with a matinee against the New York Rangers before the Predators head off on their normal early season extended roadie. There will be a two week break between home games as the team lights out for Detroit, Colorado, San Jose and Vancouver before returning for a Saturday night tilt against Chicago. That is the start of a stretch of 5 of 6 at home as Winnipeg and Vancouver come calling. Then it is a home-and-home with the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, in St. Louis then a Monday night start of the Thanksgiving holiday week home game. The Preds take on Vegas on Thanksgiving Eve then head out for a road back-to-back in Carolina and Florida to close out November.
December (6h, 6a) – December gets going with a Tuesday night game against Tampa before the return of PK. The New Jersey Devils come to town on the 7th. The Sharks hit town before a quick trip to Buffalo and a home game against Dallas before a pre-Christmas road trip that takes the team to New York to take on the Rangers and Islanders before heading to Canada’s capital for a tilt against the Senators. A game in Boston completes the four game in six night road trip. The Preds are home for the holidays with a Monday game against Arizona, the Christmas break and then they finish the 2019 portion of the schedule with a home-and-home against the Penguins.
January (4h, 8a) – A Winter Classic date at the Cotton Bowl gets 2020 going with a bang on New Year's Day for Predators and Stars fans as both teams get their first appearance in the NHL’s premier regular season event. It’s the first of 8 road games for the Predators, their second busiest travel month of the season. After the Classic, they head to LA and Anaheim for a back-to-back before returning home for a Tuesday game against Chicago. Then it is back on the road for trips to Chicago, Winnipeg and Edmonton. Two home games precede the bye week and All-Star break as Anaheim and Buffalo invade Smashville. January concludes with a home game against Toronto before the Predators head east to take on Washington and New Jersey in a back-to-back.
February (8h, 6a) – A Saturday night home date with Vegas gets the month going before the road warriors head out again as Nashville starts the month with five of seven on the road as part of an overall seven of nine on the road stretch that began in January. The Predators do a four game trip through Canada, taking them to Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. The schedule flips in the second half of February as the Preds play seven of nine at home, getting started with Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders before another home and home with St. Louis, this time a back-to-back. Then Carolina hits town before a quick trip to Chicago before starting the team’s longest home stand of the season, welcoming Columbus, Ottawa, Calgary and Colorado to finish February.
March (6h, 9a) – A road-heavy March begins with a Monday nighter against Edmonton to finish the longest homestand of the season. The Preds finish a back-to-back in Minnesota before returning home to welcome Dallas as the front end of a home-and-home. The completion is the start of the Predators longest road trip of the season, taking them to Dallas, Montreal, Toronto, Columbus and Minnesota. The Predators come back home for four of their next five as Colorado and Philadelphia comes to town. A Sunday showdown in Chicago, then two more at home against Winnipeg and LA before the Predators head west one last time with a trip to Arizona and Colorado to close out the month.
April (2h, 1a) – April dawns with a back-to-back as Montreal comes to Music City then the Preds head to Philly before finishing the season at home the way they started it… against the Minnesota Wild.
If tradition holds, the playoffs will begin on April 8.
The schedule maker seemed to have done some odd things this year, including splitting up west coast visits into multiple trips… you usually see San Jose, Anaheim and LA on the same trip… not this year. The schedule maker has split the New York trip, you frequently see the Preds play both New York teams and New Jersey on the same trip… not this year. I will be very curious to see Dirk Hoag’s annual mileage review for NHL travel, without looking at that, it appears that Nashville travel mileage will be significantly higher this season.
Interesting how the Preds and Blues play their four games in home-an-home scenarios, one back-to-back. Depending on which team is hot at the time, these could go a long way to deciding the Central in 2020
The schedule maker did a few favors for the Preds as well… starting off with four at home, closing at home and a very home heavy end to the season should be helpful.
OK… I’m ready… #IsItOctoberYet
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