5 Must-Watch Predators Games for the 2023-24 Season

The NHL schedule is released, tickets are on sale, and Nashville Predators hockey is on the horizon. With the 2023-24 season swiftly approaching, fans will try to cram in as many games as possible. However, considering life can often get in the way of keeping up with a jampacked 82-game schedule, making time for cant-miss games is a must. Let’s look at five marquee matchups on the Predators’ schedule that all fans should try and catch. 

Seattle Kraken – Oct. 12

The home opener for any team is always a must-watch game. The Predators kick off their season against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 10 but play their first game at Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 12 against the Seattle Kraken. The Kraken emerged as a playoff team last season and are ready to make it again. The Predators’ home debut coming against an expected playoff team will set expectations early regarding their playoff chances.

Substack Subscribe to the THW Daily and never miss the best of The Hockey Writers Banner

Making the playoffs this season is more optimistic than realistic for the Predators. The excitement for the re-tooling team stems from the influx of youth expected to join the big club this season. Luke Evangelista is the big-name rookie for the Predators, and if he makes the team out of camp, he will be a player to watch in their home opener against the Kraken.

Edmonton Oilers – Oct. 17

Oct. 17 marks the first time Mattias Ekholm will play in Nashville since getting traded to the Edmonton Oilers. The longtime Predator played 719 games for the organization, scoring 268 points (62 goals and 206 assists) in his time with the team. He was a key contributor in the Predators’ 2017 Stanley Cup Final run, scoring 11 points in 22 games while being a rock defensively.

Mattias Ekholm Evan Bouchard Edmonton Oilers
Mattias Ekholm and Evan Bouchard, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ekholm’s return to the city will be emotional. For years, he was a defensive stalwart on the Predators’ backend, providing quality top-four minutes. While his scoring never jumped off the page, his ability to shut down oncoming attackers with ease bolstered his reputation as one of the best defensive defensemen in the NHL. Expect a video tribute, a standing ovation, and likely a tearful Ekholm come Oct. 17.

Chicago Blackhawks – Nov. 18

Connor Bedard will make his Music City debut on Nov. 18. The 18-year-old phenom was selected first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks at the 2023 NHL Draft. With a Central Division foe getting a generational talent, the off-and-on rivalry between the Blackhawks and Predators got much more interesting. Both teams will likely finish near the bottom of the NHL this season, but witnessing Bedard’s rookie season, in-person or on television, is a must-watch event.

Connor Bedard Chicago Blackhawks
Connor Bedard, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Predators don’t have a generational player of their own, but they do yield plenty of young talent ready to make the NHL roster. Evangelista, Juuso Pärssinen, Egor Afanasyev, and Fedor Svechkov are some of the names that could be in the lineup when Bedard comes to Nashville. Players like Bedard don’t come around too often in the NHL, meaning it will be a big event anytime he comes to town.

Colorado Avalanche – Nov. 20

The Predators traded forward Ryan Johansen to the Colorado Avalanche for Alex Galchenyuk prior to the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. He spent eight seasons with the Preds, scoring 110 goals and 252 assists in 533 games. He joins the list of players returning to play in Nashville for the first time this season. The Predators acquired him in the famous one-for-one deal that sent defenseman Seth Jones to the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2016.

Ryan Johansen Nashville Predators
Ryan Johansen, formerly of the Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Predators’ first game against the Avalanche is also a great benchmark for general manager (GM) Barry Trotz to evaluate the skill of his team. Many expect the Avalanche to be among the teams vying for Lord Stanley come June, while the Predators are trending in the opposite direction. There’s a good chance they’re in the Macklin Celebrini sweepstakes. Come Nov. 20, the Predators have an opportunity to re-evaluate their team’s playoff odds while honoring Johansen’s time with the team.

Vegas Golden Knights – Jan. 15

The final of the five marquee games Predators fans should catch is their first matchup against the 2023 Stanley Cup champions. On Jan. 15, they will enter ‘The Fortress’ to take on the Vegas Golden Knights. The Predators had a 1-1-1 record against the Golden Knights last season, losing their only game in Vegas.

Related: Predators: Revisiting the Mikael Granlund/Kevin Fiala Trade

Latest News & Highlights

Similar to their game against the Avalanche, the Predators’ face-off against the Golden Knights is another chance to re-evaluate their team. With the match near the season’s midpoint, their standing in the league should be clearer. The NHL trade deadline will be weeks away following this game, giving Trotz another chance to decide whether he wants to buy or sell come the deadline.

The 2023-24 season boasts many marquee games for the Predators. Aside from their matches against the Kraken, Oilers, Blackhawks, Avalanche, and Golden Knights, many other games can dawn the cant-miss label. Those games include former Pred Matt Duchene and the Dallas Stars coming to town and matches versus the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets. Hockey is returning soon, meaning it’s time to circle game dates on the calendar.

Sign up for our free ‘Predators Substack Newsletter‘ for all the latest.