The Nashville Predators will open the 2009-10 season in Dallas and will play the Stars twice more within the first month of the season.
Nashville will open at Dallas on Oct. 3 and will host the Stars on Oct. 31 to start and finish what will equal the busiest October in franchise history. The Predators also will travel to Dallas on Oct. 14 for their second road game but then will not conclude the season series with the Stars until March 23 at Sommet Center.
A run of 13 games in the first four weeks will include five straight on the road from Oct. 17-28.
The NHL released its entire 2009-10 schedule Wednesday afternoon.
“The benefits to opening on the road are that you knock of a lot of the travel while you are still fairly fresh,” coach Barry Trotz said on the team’s website. “The bad thing is it maybe does hinder you on getting a good start sometimes because you are the road team and let's face it, a lot of teams play better at home.”
“The other advantages to opening with road trips are that your team gets to bond a little bit. We’ve always had a fairly close team so being on the road is not a bad thing for us.”
Because 2010 is an Olympic year, the NHL will shut down for two weeks at the end of February. That creates a more congested schedule throughout the rest of the season.
The only other time Nashville played 13 games in October was 2001-02, anther season that included an Olympic break. The Predators opened 4-7-2 that year and finished with a 28-41-13 mark.
“Everybody will have back-to-backs and (stretches of) three games in four nights because you have to squeeze in an extra game or two every week,” associate coach Brent Peterson said. “… I think there’s less road trips, but more where you play three or four road games in a row. If you’re going to go out on the road, you might as well stay there.”
The NHL will halt play following Feb. 14 for the Olympics. Teams will be allowed to resume practicing Feb. 24 and games will resume March 1.
Nashville’s 2009-10 schedule includes 13 more games in November and 15 in December. Coming off the Olympic break, the team will play 17 games in March.
“We have been working on a lot of the plans and details for the season,” Peterson said. “Now that we can look at the final schedule, we can tweak a few things … and we’ll be ready to go.”