Nashville Predators vs. Minnesota Wild Preview: Opening Night in Nashville

The Predators begin the 2019-2020 season at home tonight against the Minnesota Wild.

It seems like the offseason has been about six months long. We last saw our boys in gold in late April as they reeled from an early exit in the first round against Dallas. Since then, there’s been some changes, all of which we have extensively covered at OTF. Pitter patter, let’s get at ‘er!

Nashville Predators

It’s game day! After waiting seemingly years for this team to take the ice, tonight is the night.

The goaltenders are a known quantity. Pekka Rinne will be in the starter’s crease for his 13th season. Here’s the projected lineup for tonight:

Expect to see Dante Fabbro paired with Mattias Ekholm on the second defense pairing. Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis are reunited, and it appears that Dan Hamhuis and Yannick Weber will man the third pair with Matt Irwin scratched.

The forward lineup will evolve as the season progresses. Where does Matt Duchene best fit? Who should Craig Smith and Mikael Granlund skate with? Remember that lineups are fluid and Coach Peter Laviolette is not afraid to mix things up.

Minnesota Wild

The Wild had a wild (pun intended) offseason. After firing GM Paul Fenton mid-summer, the Wild’s management brought in Bill Guerin. Guerin locked down a contract for former Predator Kevin Fiala and looks to lead a resurgence in the State of Hockey.

The biggest addition for Minnesota comes in the form of gritty winger Mats Zuccarello. After being traded to Dallas from the Rangers, Zuccarello signed with the Wild in free agency. Minnesota has some young forward talent in Jordan Greenway and Ryan Donato. Look for both players to have big seasons.

Preds fans can’t forget about Ryan Hartman. Traded from Philadelphia at the draft to Dallas, the gritty winger then found a home in Minnesota and looks to remain a lower-six forward option for the Wild.

On defense, Matt Dumba looks to skate in a full NHL season after spending over half of last season sidelined with injury. Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon will also man the blueline, and former Predator Brad Hunt will skate as a third-pairing option.

Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock will be Minnesota’s goalie tandem. Dubnyk often puts together quality work for a team that stumbles offensively.

Head Coach Bruce Boudreau will be behind the bench for his fourth season with the Wild.

Reasons to Watch

  • Hi, Kevin Fiala!
  • I really don’t need to give you a reason to watch the first game of the 2019-2020 season, do I?
  • Will the power play be better?/

Memories and Feelings

  • Does anyone else remember when Devan Dubnyk was super salty about Ryan Johansen’s fake-out shootout goal? I do. It gave me much joy.
  • Someone somewhere will still be booing Ryan Suter, so there’s that.
  • Brad Hunt! He’s a real hockey player!!!/

Tonight’s Theme Song

“Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

Tonight’s Drink of Choice

I’ve recently discovered what a Pink Whitney is, so I’ll be having some tonight. Cheers!

How to Watch

The Predators kick off the season with a primetime tilt on NBC Sports. You can listen to the radio call on 102.5 The Game. Puck drop is at 7:00 at Bridgestone Arena.