It’s finally here. The National Hockey League season is finally upon on us, and the games can start counting for real.
Every club starts with zero points and optimism is high. It’s especially high for fans of the Nashville Predators. The team has been picked to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season, and some even have them finally winning the Central Division crown.
The month of October provides some interesting matchups as the Predators get to see how they stack up against some of the league’s top contenders and get to peer into the future with the first visit of one of the two generational talents that were drafted in June at the 2015 NHL Draft.
Oct. 8 vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Time: 8 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Carolina, Fox Sports Tennessee
Why you should watch: It’s the home opener. Carolina doesn’t come into the season with a lot of expectations, but the home opener is always a party no matter who the opponent is. A good start to the season could help set a positive tone.
Oct. 10 vs. Edmonton Oilers
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: CBC, Fox Sports Tennessee
Why you should watch: It will be the first time that top-pick Connor McDavid comes to town, and he gets to take on one of the best defenses in the league. It will be interesting to see McDavid and the rest of the promising Edmonton offense.
This game will also be the first time the Predators will bust out the gold helmets that they will wear for every Saturday home game. The helmets will be part of the new “Golden Saturdays” promotion, that will have the game presentation through gold lenses and give fans prizes for wearing the most gold.
— Smashville Proud (@SmashvilleProud) August 11, 2015
Opinions on the gold lids are still mixed, but they will be the first non-throwback helmets to feature gold since the Vancouver Canucks in the 1987-88 season.
Oct. 20 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Time: 8 p.m.
TV: Sunshine Network, Fox Sports Tennessee
Why you should watch: It will be a chance to see how Nashville stacks up against the defending Eastern Conference champions. The teams played against each other twice in the preseason, with the Predators winning both games.
It will be the third game in a stretch of seven where the Predators face teams that qualified for last year’s playoffs. Granted it’s only the preseason and this game will be early, but it will be a nice gauge to see where Nashville is among the best in the league.
Oct. 22 vs. Anaheim Ducks
Time: 8 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee, Fox Sports Prime Ticket
Why you should watch: Nashville doesn’t get a break in the schedule as they have to face a team that went to the Western Conference final. Anaheim was picked to win the Stanley Cup in this year’s NHL 16 simulation done by video game maker EA Sports, and are the favorite of some to get the Cup. It will be another good early-season test.
Oct. 24 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Time: 8 p.m.
TV: ROOT Pittsburgh, Fox Sports Tennessee
Why you should watch: It’ll be another game of contrasts as the high-powered Penguins take on the steady Predators defense. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and the rest of the Pens could pose a problem for the defense. If you want to change it up from the usual Saturday fare of college football, give this game a look.
Honorable mention: Oct. 15 at New York Islanders; Oct. 17 at Ottawa; Oct. 28 at San Jose (first of four Predators games on NBCSN); Oct. 31 at Los Angeles.
Did I ignore a game that you think is better? Let me know in the comments below.
Covered hockey since attending SUNY Oswego in Upstate New York in the early 2000s. Has written about college, major junior and professional hockey for the last five years.
Resides in Watertown, NY.