Predators versus Red Wings, Red Wings versus Blackhawks, Blackhawks versus Blue Jackets, Blue Jackets versus Predators. Something about seeing those matchups with the “divisional game” label just feels right, doesn’t it?
The O.G. Central matchups are front-and-center in the Nashville Predators’ 2021 schedule. The pandemic-shortened slate features 56 games, all against teams in the NHL’s newly-revamped Central Division. Those teams are the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Predators will open the season at Bridgestone Arena on January 14th against the Blue Jackets. They’ll then play three games in four nights against the Jackets and Hurricanes before their first road trip of the year, a two-game stint against the Stars on January 22nd and 24th.
As expected, the schedule features mostly consecutive games against similar opponents to reduce travel, not unlike how it’s done in college hockey. The Predators have nine sets of back-to-back games, nine homestands, and eight road trips. The longest road trip of the year has a duration of 11 days. That trip features six games against the Hurricanes, Lightning, and Panthers.
For the most part, the games are evenly spread out across the calendar, which seems optimistic given what we’ve seen from a few other sports leagues this fall. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of flexibility for rescheduling if games have be cancelled or postponed due to COVID. However, we should get more information from the NHL on their protocols for those scenarios in the coming weeks.
A couple of other key dates to write down: The NHL Trade Deadline will be Monday, April 12th at 2:00 PM CST, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are slated to begin on May 11th, and the last possible date of the Final is July 9th.
You can check out the Predators’ full schedule here.
Which game(s) are you marking on your calendars, Preds fans?