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Kevin Fiala to Make "Second" Playoff Debut

Fiala Played Only Other Playoff Game in 2015, Also Against the Blackhawks

by Thomas Willis @TomAWillis / Digital Manager & Producer

In 2015, the Predators recalled forward Kevin Fiala three days before opening their Round One playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Drafted only a few months before, the then 18-year-old rookie had made his NHL debut on March 24, but it seemed he'd only serve as depth for the Preds postseason run that year.

That was until the morning of Game Four when Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette tapped Fiala on the shoulder and told him he'd be making his playoff debut that night.

"[Such a] great memory, I will never forget that," Fiala said on Thursday morning after the Preds morning skate. "I was nervous and so excited just to step on the ice and play for this team. I wanted to help get them a win."

That Game Four in 2015 ended up going a minute into triple overtime with the Hawks prevailing, 3-2, and Fiala playing limited minutes during his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Two years later, Fiala will make his "second" postseason debut in the same arena and against the same team, but personally, in a very different place in his career. The Swiss winger potted 11 goals in 54 games of NHL action in 2016-17, marking one of the Preds' 12 players to hit double-digit goal totals - a tie for first in the NHL.

Since being recalled from Milwaukee (AHL) on Feb. 18, Fiala has turned in what may be the best stretch of his career, helping to create offense, driving possession and scoring five times.

"I think he's continuing to get better each game," James Neal said of Fiala. "He's growing, maturing and figuring out the game each and every night. He's got a ton of skill and he's a great, young player so he'll continue to get better."

"I think I'm much more prepared," Fiala said. "I've had almost a [whole] NHL season behind me, and I know what it's like and I think I'm going to do great.

"Coach has [put his] confidence in me, and I'm very thankful for that. I want to give something back by giving 100 percent and creating offense and trying to score."

So when a lot of the same routines - morning skate, nap, snack and bus ride to the rink - play out for Fiala in advance of Game One against the Hawks, it'll be very similar for the young forward, but also very different.

"I'm very thankful that I played a lot of minutes [recently]," Fiala said. "Hopefully we will get a win tonight."


**For schedules, where to watch, giveaways and coverage of the Predators 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs run, visit the playoff hub**

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