The NHL has always been about expanding the boundaries with their game. In 2008, they introduced the NHL Winter Classic in Buffalo. That opened up a gateway for more and more opportunities to play outside. In 2014, they introduced more outdoor games with the NHL Stadium Series. That season, we witnessed games at Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium, and Soldier Field. Now, it seems like the NHL is expanding their range of which teams will get their chance to relive some childhood memories. Those teams now include the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators.
Usually, with an outdoor game in the NHL, the matchup consists of rivals. We have seen matchups such as Boston vs Montreal or even Los Angeles vs San Jose. This matchup seems to be a total curveball compared to what we are used to. I get the NHL is getting creative with their games, but this seems like it was picked out of a hat. This one will be located at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
“Tennessee is home to the best sports fans in the world, and we're honored that Nashville has been chosen to host the 2022 NHL Stadium Series game this February.”
CANNOT. WAIT. https://t.co/7wkJBlqrZG
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) June 29, 2021
History With Outdoor Games
The great part of this matchup is that we haven’t seen these teams in this setting much before. The Lightning have yet to be in an outdoor game ever since it was introduced, but the Predators are a different story. They only have one outdoor game under their belt in their history. That game was against teh Dallas Stars for the 2020 Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl. That game is a game Predators fans want to forget. Their team blew a 2-0 lead to eventually lose the game 4-2.
Ex[erince with these games could help you, but sometimes it doesn’t matter. With a new team that has never played outdoors before, it could be a boost for them with all the excitement around the team. Just ask the Blackhawks. They seem to get an outdoor game every year and they manage to lose almost every one of them. Just because you have done this before, it doesn’t mean it will be a cakewalk the next time.
Why This Matchup?
Usually with these games, there is a reason behind the matchup. Boston has played teams like Philadelphia and Montreal when playing outdoors. We have seen the Battle of New York as well as Colorado and Detroit. With these two teams, there doesn’t seem to be much of a connection. The more realistic choice would have been the Battle of Florida at a neutral location, but the Predators are an odd choice.
The city of Nashville deserves an outdoor game for sure. It just seems like, with both teams, there could have been much more intriguing matchups overall. For the Predators, maybe a matchup against the Blackhawks or even the Avalanche possibly. For the Lightning, maybe the Rangers, Bruins, or Panthers would have been a better option. Either way, it will be great to see the NHL back outdoors with fans in attendance.
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