NASHVILLE -- The disappointment of losing the Stanley Cup Final is fresh for the Nashville Predators, but the sense of what they accomplished is starting to come into view.
The Predators won the Western Conference for the first time and showcased a fan base that extended beyond the city into the southern region of the United States.
The Predators fell short of their goal of winning the Stanley Cup, losing the Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games, but can take some pride in their run during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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"I think everybody is obviously still disappointed, but I'm really proud of this team and what we did all year," Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. "Obviously this has been so much fun for us with the whole city behind us, just the whole city coming together and the energy we had in the building. It's been so much fun for us."
The crowds outside Bridgestone Arena for playoff games were something the Predators used as motivation.
"It's been unbelievable the amount of people that supported us and how crazy the city was," Predators captain Mike Fisher said. "They really got behind us. I mean, everyone was talking about it. We don't just talk about it with the media; everyone was talking about it, players and people, everyone, about this city and how it was united.
"Really, I don't know when it was, I was driving into the rink before a game one night and it kind of just hit me about how united the city is at really a time where there's a lot of division too, so it was kind of cool to see. It didn't matter what political party or what race or whatever, it was just all about yellow and the city. That was kind of cool to think about that. That was neat. People were all-in for the Preds, and we felt it and we appreciated it and it was awesome."
Video: What does the future hold for the Predators?
It will be a short offseason for the Predators before they attempt to take the next step and win the Stanley Cup for the first time. They feel like their future is bright and the young core of players they have, particularly at forward, will be more prepared next season.
"I don't feel good, I feel great," Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban said. "I think that when you look at our team, there's a bright future for our hockey club, but that's all it is, is a bright future. You still have to put in the work to justify that and justify the players that have come up through our system that have worked hard to be a part of this hockey club and to be a part of doing something special."
The Predators were relatively short on experience heading into the playoffs compared to their opponents: the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks and Penguins. They hope the experience gained this postseason will help them not only get back to the Final, but win it.
"Well, as a team, as a hockey club, we believe in each other and we believe that we can get the job done," Predators center Ryan Johansen said. "This year wasn't our year, but we had some great experiences as a young club. Going into next season, there will be no surprises, no new scenarios for us. So as a club, we've just got to come back next year hungrier than ever and try to have a consistent 82-game great season where hopefully we can have some home-ice advantage going into the playoffs."