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3 Things: Preds Gelling as Young Season Progresses

Pekka Rinne, Viktor Arvidsson and Defensive Pairings Highlight Nashville's Early Success

by Willy Daunic @WillyD1025 / Television Play-By-Play

After six games of this young season, the Predators are showing signs of gelling.

Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette preached throughout training camp that despite last year's experience gained from the memorable playoff run, every group is unique. Roles have to be defined. New stripes have to be earned.

To a person, the team was disappointed in their first outing in Boston. A 4-0 loss in Pittsburgh certainly wasn't the desired result in the second contest, but Laviolette saw signs of life. In each game since then, Laviolette has expressed in his postgame comments that the Predators have shown game-by-game improvement. Not coincidentally, the team is on a 3-0-1 stretch as they head out for the next short-term goal: road wins.

Here are a few nuggets contributing to the improvement...

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It's Time to Begin

Preds Broadcaster Willy Daunic Looks Back at Training Camp and the Best Interviews to Start the Season

by Willy Daunic @WillyD1025 / Television Play-By-Play

It's here...

I can't even tell you how many different types of people have asked me about last season's memories. Some were season-ticket holders. Some were casual fans, who had become hard core. Some had never paid much attention to the Predators, even though they had lived in Nashville their whole lives. I'm sure that, like me, you met "that guy" at some point this past summer who uttered some version of the following: "I probably watched more hockey in two months than I did in the previous 10 years combined!" And still other questions came from "new fans" who lived far away, some I knew, some I didn't, who would see me wearing Gold and tell me how they were swept up in the incredible madness we all witnessed.   

We will never forget last season. Regardless of what the future holds.

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Not an Ordinary Eight Seed: Preds Since Jan. 10

Since January 10, Predators are 32-15-5 Overall and 19-4-3 at Home

by Willy Daunic @WillyD1025 / Predators Television Play-by-Play

As the Predators embark on their first trip to the Western Conference Final, the narrative from the national media often centers on the unlikely run of this Second Wildcard team (also referred to as an eight seed).

In reality, the Preds have slowly blossomed into a team whose stats can match any elite squad's - since Jan. 10. Let's take a look back:

On the night of Jan. 8, Nashville played their 40th game of the season and lost in Chicago 5-2. It was a frustrating affair in which the Blackhawks scored three late third-period goals (two empty-netters) to break open a tight game. The Predators had lost many close games in this fashion to that point in the season - unlucky one night, not doing "the little things" on another. The formula wasn't quite right, but everyone on the team knew they were capable of more. "Inconsistent" was a word used to describe them more than perhaps any other.

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50 Days: The Challenge Ahead

As the Predators Return from Their Five-Day Break, Willy Daunic Takes a Look at What Looms Ahead

by Willy Daunic @WillyD1025 / Television Play-By-Play Announcer

Has everybody recharged their batteries? As the brand new "bye week" wraps up for the Nashville Predators, it's time to take a look at the challenge ahead as the team attempts to secure a spot in the eight-team Western Conference playoff bracket.  

The new NHL concept has had mixed reviews so far (the five-day break is enjoyed by different teams at different times). The early results have not been good in the first game back for each team (3-9-1 as of Friday), but the trade off in theory will be to heal up for what will most certainly be a mad dash to the regular season finish line.   

For Nashville, the squad opens with an extremely difficult set of back-to-back games in Minnesota on Saturday night, followed by a 5 p.m. CT Sunday tilt at Columbus. Both opponents have had elite seasons, and have a combined home record of 39-15-2. Those contests begin a run of 26 games over a 50-day span for the Preds. Though every team will face a similar "compressed" post bye-week schedule, it will test the sturdiness, stamina, and depth of every organization.

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In Search of Consistency

Grimson Says Rinne and Forsberg Are Key for Needed Consistency

by Stu Grimson @asgrimson / Television Analyst

Consistency: The achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time.

Where your favorite gold-breasted NHL team is concerned, does the following look like a "level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time?"

October: 2-5-1; November: 9-3-2; December: 5-6-3. January: 1-1-1. Agreed. Not nearly.

However, in spite of the ups and downs of the 2016-17 season so far, the picture is not nearly as bleak as some would describe it. The Preds are two points back of the Western Conference playoff cutoff line with two games in hand on the Canucks who hold the eighth spot.

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Former Preds Captain Weber Returns to Nashville

Pete Weber Blogs on his Finest Memories of the Preds' "John Wayne"

by Pete Weber @PeteWeberSports / Radio Play-by-Play

How does one remember the Nashville Predators "John Wayne?" That's how I've described the team's previous captain prior to the day he was traded on June 29, 2016.

Hockey players do tend to be the strong, silent type. Much like Marion Morrison, the man we knew as John Wayne the movie star - that's how I will always think of Shea Weber.

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Statistics Indicate Preds Strong Play Here to Stay

Goal Differential, Road Record and Team's Possession Numbers are Trending Upward

by Willy Daunic @WillyD1025 / Television Play-by-Play

The Nashville Predators season has now completed the first quarter of the 82-game marathon. As many have pointed out, the team had a strong month of November to vault back up into the Western Conference playoff pack after a sluggish October.

Though Nashville has moved above the playoff line, it is a true logjam in the West. At the start of play Thursday, teams ranked four through 11 in the Conference standings had between 24-26 points. The Predators have 25 points, though they and the Minnesota Wild have played the fewest amount of games (22) among the group.

Things have stabilized, but there is still a ton of hockey to be played. Statistically, there are things to like. Let's look at a couple of trends:

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Preds Penalty Kill Improves as Team Collects Points

Three Reasons Why the Preds Have Seen Success While Shorthanded

by Willy Daunic @WillyD1025 / Television Play-by-Play

In any sport, when a team puts together a run of success, the word "confidence" will work its way into the discussion. The Nashville Predators in November are yet another example of this. While the team is yet to hit its peak level, the 4-0-2 start to November has fueled the confidence inside the Nashville locker room. Just like anything else, success breeds confidence - and confidence breeds more success.

Take the Predators penalty-killing unit, for example. The current November point streak has coincided with six consecutive games without allowing a power-play goal. After some early struggles (Nashville allowed nine power-play goals in their first 19 times shorthanded on the road), the PK has turned into a key catalyst in recent wins. In particular, the team came up big in Thursday's win over Anaheim.

Early in the second period with Nashville leading 1-0, P.K. Subban was whistled for a double-minor on a high-sticking infraction. The subsequent kill inspired the crowd and jump started the Predators on the other end. James Neal's goal shortly after made it 2-0. Then, on another kill, a hustling Viktor Arvidsson stole the puck behind the Ducks' net, and found a cutting Colton Sissons for a back-breaking, shorthanded goal to make it 3-0.

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2016 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Pete Weber Recaps His Night at the Hockey Hall of Fame

by Pete Weber @PeteWeberSports / Radio Play-by-Play

For the second time in three years, the Nashville Predators schedule had them in Toronto on the night of the annual Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Each of these affairs is special and create a convention that can only be called, "A Night in Hockey Heaven."

My first time in that atmosphere was the 1992 ceremony, when the Hall had not yet moved to its current location, and Marcel Dionne was the headliner. Having worked with him in Los Angeles, he invited me up from Buffalo to take part. What a privilege that was. I know it didn't make up for his never winning a Stanley Cup, but it was recognition of the excellence of his career.

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My Hockey Memories in Denver

Pete Weber Reflects on the History of Hockey in Colorado and His Role in it

by Pete Weber @PeteWeberSports / Radio Play-by-Play

When you have a few days between games, you get a chance for a bit of reflection. For me, memories of many years of traveling to Denver, Colorado, for hockey come back quickly.

I started traveling here in 1974, while doing Notre Dame hockey as a graduate student. One of college hockey's coaching legends ran the University of Denver Pioneers program in those days. Murray "The Chief" Armstrong won National Championships five times (1958, 1960, 1961, 1968 and 1969) and was runner-up another three times. He coached players like current Avalanche broadcaster Peter McNab (363 NHL goals in a long career, primarily with Boston); Keith Magnuson and Cliff Koroll (who went on to later fame with the Chicago Blackhawks), plus Jim Wiste (who was a double-digit goal scorer for the Cleveland Crusaders and Indianapolis Racers of the WHA).

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