The Nashville Predators open their 11th season tonight at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. A season ago, the Predators and Stars split their four-game set, with the home team winning each matchup. Though Nashville is 4-15-1 all-time in trips to “Big D,” it has gone 2-2-0 the past two seasons. In 2008-09, the teams played twice in the first week of the season, and in 2009-10, the Stars and Preds will clash three times in October.
Ryan Jones scored his first career goal NHL in Nashville's first trip to Dallas last season. (Photo by Getty Images)
On This Date
The Predators have never played a regular season game on October 3 in franchise history. It actually marks the second-earliest date the Preds have ever played a regular season contest, just one day behind the 1999 season opener (Oct. 2, 1999) vs. Los Angeles, a 2-0 loss at Sommet Center.
Last season, J.P. Dumont paced the Predators in both points (5a) and assists, while Jason Arnott led all Nashville skaters in goals (3)… Arnott had 184 points (79g-105a) in 236 games over parts of three seasons with Dallas from 2002-06. Since joining the Predators, he has eight points (3g-5a) in 10 games against his former team, including three points (2g-1a) in the 2008-09 home opener on Oct. 11… Dan Ellis started all four games, improving to 4-3-0 with a 2.11 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and two shutouts all-time against his former team... Goaltender Pekka Rinne has never faced Dallas.
Career Highlights vs. Dallas Marcel Goc – Penalty shot on Oct. 26, 2005 against Marty Turco (no goal). Martin Erat – First NHL game on Oct. 5, 2001. Patric Hornqvist – First NHL goal on Oct. 15, 2008 against Marty Turco. David Legwand – Second (last) hat trick on Oct. 6, 2007.
Ryan Jones – First NHL goal on Oct. 15, 2008 against Marty Turco.
NASHVILLE IN SEASON OPENERS
Nashville is 4-6-0 in season openers and 2-7-(1)-0 in road openers in team history. The club has opened a season (on the road) with Dallas once before, having fallen 4-1 at Reunion Arena on Oct. 5, 2001. Of the players that compiled Nashville’s 20-man roster for last season’s opener at St. Louis on Oct. 10 (5-2 loss), both goaltenders, three-of-six defensemen and nine-of-12 forwards are starting the 200-10 season with Nashville.
INDIVIDUAL STREAKS IN SEASON OPENERS Ryan Suter has a point in every campaign opener he has played since entering the NHL on Oct. 5, 2005, amassing five points (1g-4a) in four season openers – he had a goal last season at St. Louis, an assist in the 2007-08 opener vs. Colorado, a pair of assists in 2006-07’s first game against Chicago, and a helper in his first NHL game to open the 2005-06 season (also against Chicago)… David Legwand has also been prolific in Game Ones, notching a point in five of the last six openers dating back to 2002-03. He has six points (4g-4a) in those games… The duo of Jason Arnott (2g-2a) and J.P. Dumont (1g2a) have points in each of the past two openers, combining for seven points.
The Predators posted a 4-2-0 record in 2009 preseason action, the third time in franchise history, and in the past five seasons, that the club has recorded a winning record. Nashville split a pair of games with Atlanta and Carolina, will taking both home and road matchups with Columbus. 2005 draftee Patric Hornqvist led all Predators in scoring with seven points (2g-5a) in five games, while David Legwand (1g-5a) tied him for the team lead in assists and Ryan Jones paced all Nashville goal scorers (3). In net, Dan Ellis put up solid numbers, going 3-0-0 with a 1.61 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in four games played.
Though it is difficult to use preseason production as a projection to how players will do in the regular season, a season ago, Shea Weber led Nashville in preseason scoring (5gp, 2g-3a), then went onto score a career-high 23 goals and post 53 points in 2008-09. In 2007, J.P. Dumont led Nashville preseason scorers (4gp, 1g-5a), then led the team in regular season points (72 in 2007-08). Paul Kariya led Nashville in 2006 preseason scoring (2gp, 2g-4a), and led the team with 76 points in 2006-07.
CAREER/FRANCHISE MILESTONES WITHIN REACH EARLY IN 2009-10
Jason Arnott – Twelve goals from 100 goals as a Predator; FIVE assists from 100 assists as a Predator; Seventeen points from 200 points as a Predator. Wade Belak – FIVE games from 500 career NHL games played. Francis Bouillon – Fifteen games from 500 NHL games played. Jerred Smithson – SEVEN games from 300 games played as a Predator. Steve Sullivan – NINE games from 200 games played as a Predator; TEN points from 200 points as a Predator. Ryan Suter – SEVEN assists from 100 career assists. Jordin Tootoo – Twelve penalty minutes (532) from matching Scott Hartnell (544) as the franchise’s all-time leader in the category. Joel Ward – TEN games from 100 career NHL games played.
2009-10 OPENING NIGHT ROSTER BREAKDOWN
PREDATORS BY COUNTRY
Canada - 14 (6 - Ontario, 4 - British Columbia, 2 – Quebec, 1 - Manitoba, Saskatchewan)
Finland - 2, Laakso and Rinne
United States - 4, Bouillon (New York), Legwand (Michigan), Suter (Wisconsin) and Wilson (Connecticut)
Czech Republic - 1, Erat
Germany – 1, Goc
Sweden – 1, Hornqvist
WHERE THEY CAME FROM
Western Hockey League - (6) Belak, Erat, Hamhuis, Smithson, Tootoo, Weber
NCAA - (6) Ellis, Guite, Jones, Santorelli, Suter, Wilson
Ontario Hockey League - (4) Arnott, Klein, Legwand, Sullivan
Finnish Elite League - (3) Laakso and Rinne
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League - (2) Dumont and Bouillon
Swedish Elite League – (1) Hornqvist
Canadian Intercollegiate - (1) Ward
German Elite League – (1) Goc
* TWELVE players have been drafted by Nashville (Erat, Hamhuis, Hornqvist, Klein, Laakso, Legwand, Rinne, Santorelli, Suter, Tootoo, Weber and Wilson).
* EIGHT players have been signed as free agents (Arnott, Bouillon, Dumont, Ellis, Goc, Guite, Smithson and Ward).
* THREE players have been acquired through trades (Belak, Jones and Sullivan).
The Predators currently have 13 players on the roster that have spent their entire NHL careers in a Predators' uniform. Draft picks include David Legwand (second overall in 1998), Martin Erat (191st overall in 1999), Dan Hamhuis (12th overall in 2001), Jordin Tootoo (98th overall in 2001), Ryan Suter (seventh overall in 2003), Kevin Klein (37th overall in 2003), Shea Weber (49th overall in 2003), Mike Santorelli (178th overall in 2004), Pekka Rinne (258th overall in 2004), Teemu Laakso (78th overall in 2005), Patric Hornqvist (230th overall in 2005) and Colin Wilson (seventh overall in 2008). Ryan Jones was acquired via trade.
Dan Ellis played in one NHL game with Dallas before signing with Nashville, while Joel Ward only has 11 games experience outside of a Predators sweater
The Predators have eight players in the lineup that were drafted in the first round, four of whom were drafted by Nashville: David Legwand (2nd overall, 1998), Dan Hamhuis (12th overall, 2001), Ryan Suter (7th overall, 2003) and Colin Wilson (7th overall, 2008). Jason Arnott was chosen seventh overall by Edmonton in 1993, J.P. Dumont was selected third overall by the New York Islanders in 1996, Marcel Goc was selected 20th overall by San Jose in 2001 (the highest ever for a German-born player), and Wade Belak was tabbed 12th overall in 1994.