Nashville, Tenn. (WKRN)- Nothing is normal in the National Hockey League this season and the shortened 56-game schedule will take some getting used to. The Nashville Predators opened up play on Thursday, hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets and will face them again on Saturday.
Two-game sets and back-to-back games is the new normal, and players will need some time to get used to it, including new Predators’ forward Nick Cousins.
“It’s unique. You probably don’t see that as often unless it’s a home and home, which are very rare in this league. But it feels like playing hockey and with them being divisional games, every game is important,” said Cousins.
Predators forward Rocco Grimaldi said while this format is new to the NHL, it’s not foreign to those who played the game at the college level.
“It’s definitely different. It kinda reminds me of my college days, playing back-to-backs or every other day with the same team, so it’s going to be a long, hard season,” said Grimaldi.
And while it will be challenging, Predators head coach John Hynes does believe there are benefits to this new setup, including opportunities for more teachable moments.
“I think thing is you know how you’re going to prepare for a team for two games and I think the day in between games is sometimes easier to teach your guys because there are certain situations that you got tested in or you did well against the opponent and then going right back against the same team and seeing if those things can get better,” said Hynes.
The Predators 2020-21 season consists of nine homestands and eight road trips, along with ten sets of back-to-back games.
The team will wrap up their first homestand of the season early next week, hosting the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday and Tuesday.