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Avalanche ready for 'noisy, hostile' crowd in Game 1 against Predators

Western Conference series opens at Bridgestone Arena

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NASHVILLE -- Bridgestone Arena was rather quiet when the Colorado Avalanche practiced there Wednesday, their shots and shouts echoing in an otherwise empty building.

That will change when they play the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round there Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS, FS-TN, ALT).

The fans at Bridgestone Arena are boisterous. They're frenzied. They'll wildly cheer the Predators and they'll tell the opposing goaltender that he's not very good. Avalanche goaltender Jonathan Bernier called it "a tough building to play in," and that exuberance gets amplified in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Avalanche series coverage]

 

"It's a fun place to come and play because it's loud, it's noisy and it's hostile," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "You have to embrace that, enjoy it, and try to take two points out of here."

The atmosphere at Bridgestone Arena has always been good. But Avalanche center Colin Wilson, who played eight seasons for the Predators, said it got crazier in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks, a six-game, first-round loss.

"That was the first time it really got to another level," Wilson said. "We missed the playoffs the year before, so everyone was pretty amped up. From there on out, it took off. It helps that the city is booming right now, so it's a perfect storm."

Nashville experienced four rounds of playoffs last season but started each series on the road. The postseason ended with people lining the streets throughout the Stanley Cup Final loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Video: The crew previews the Predators/Avalanche series

"It seemed each series last year, the deeper we went, the more exciting and the more rowdy, the more awesome the city got backing our team," Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "The whole year has been like that. We've had that buzz around our team for a while now. We expect no different. We have the best fans in the League, and we know they're going to show up. We're going to have to do our part."

Game 2 will be at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday, and Games 5 and 7 if necessary.

"I don't know if there's any way to quiet them," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "Just come out and enjoy the atmosphere, no doubt. It's probably one of the better playoff buildings to play in.

"But for us as a group, we just have to come out and play the way we have to, weather the storm the first 10 minutes or so and get right back at it. We have to have an aggressive mindset and attack attitude. That's what it really comes down to and that's when we're playing our best."

The Avalanche are in the playoffs for the first time since 2013-14 and haven't won a series since 2007-08. Colorado lost two games at Nashville this season and were outscored 9-3.

"Everyone knows this barn gets loud. It gets to another level in the playoffs," Wilson said. "Use the energy. Even though they're not cheering for you, it's an exciting game to be a part of."

NHL.com correspondent Robby Stanley contributed to this report.

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