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Playoff Significance for Fisher, Subban and Rinne

Fisher Seeks Perhaps Final Run, Rinne Wants Revenge, Subban Ready to Shine

by John Glennon @glennonsports / glennonsports@gmail.com

The goal that unites all Nashville Predators during the postseason is the pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

But that doesn't mean every player on the team views the playoffs - which get underway on Thursday for Nashville - in exactly the same way.

A longtime veteran, for instance, might eye the postseason with an extra sense of urgency, knowing he only has so many left in him. A youngster, on the other hand, might be eager to make a big first impact on the national stage.

Here's a look at the playoffs through the eyes of three key Preds - Captain Mike Fisher, goalie Pekka Rinne and defenseman P.K. Subban - as Game One of the First Round series against Chicago approaches.

Player: Mike Fisher

Position: Center

Theme: Making every moment count

His story: This postseason will mark the 12th trip to the playoffs for Fisher in his 18-year career.

There's been no indication Fisher plans to retire after this season, not after serving as a team captain for the first time and contributing 18 goals. But the 36-year-old, who's in the final year of his contract, is aware his window to capture the Cup is shrinking.

He's come close before, falling just three wins shy in 2007 when his Ottawa Senators fell to Anaheim in the Stanley Cup Final. Fisher would love to guide the Predators on a similar run in the latter stages of his career.

"You never know when you're going to be back [in the postseason]," Fisher said. "It's so hard just to make it to the playoffs.

"Sometimes there's that take-it-for-granted thinking when you're young. Then all of a sudden you're here [in your career]. So you have to try to make the most of it - enjoy the process of the playoffs and being able to do this."

Though players are hardly lacking for motivation in the playoffs, the fact that each postseason could be Fisher's last is probably worth an added jolt or two of adrenaline in every game.

"It's one of those things where you just want to make the most of every opportunity and live in that moment," Fisher said. "Enjoy it and give everything you've got."

Player: Pekka Rinne

Position: Goalie

Theme: Time to turn the tables

His story: Rinne is one of just two current Predators - along with left wing Colin Wilson - who were on Nashville's roster in both the 2010 and 2015 playoff series against Chicago. In fact, Rinne has started all 12 of the Preds' postseason games against the Blackhawks.

He's been a part of some big Nashville wins, like Game One of the 2010 series, when the Predators beat Chicago 4-1 to record the franchise's first road playoff victory.

But he's also suffered some bitter losses, none more memorable to him than Game Five in 2010, when Chicago scored a shorthanded goal with 13.6 seconds left to send the contest to overtime. The Blackhawks' 5-4 win gave them a 3-2 series lead, and Chicago closed out the Preds in Game Six.

"That was a disappointment because we pretty much thought we had it," Rinne said. "That's a memory that's always been in the back of my head. But you use that to your advantage. You try to look back and learn from it."

Rinne knows that at some point, the Preds are going to have to knock off the division bully, much like they did in 2012, when Nashville downed Detroit after losing two previous playoff series to the Red Wings.

"Sure, there are a lot of similarities," Rinne said, comparing the Preds' postseason matchups against Detroit and Chicago.

"No matter whether we play in [Chicago's] building or ours, there's a ton of of fans from both teams. In that sense, it creates a lot of emotions. It is a bit of a rivalry… As a team and an organization, if you want to move forward and get by that hump, you have to beat [the Blackhawks]."

Player: P.K. Subban

Position: Defense

Theme: Proven playoff performer arrives

His story: One of the many things that attracted the Predators to Subban was his playoff experience.

He's played in 55 postseason games, third-most on the Predators behind Fisher (114) and James Neal (58). Subban was part of two Canadiens' runs to the Eastern Conference Final, participating in 14 playoff games in 2010 and 17 in 2014.

Though most playoff games feature less offense than the regular season, Subban has actually upped his production in the postseason. He's averaged .69 points-per-game in playoff games, compared to .64 during the regular season.

"Every single playoff game was fun for me," Subban said. "Every second is meaningful in the playoffs. That's what is so exciting about it. You're going to look back on your career and remember playing in these games."

Subban said if any of the younger Preds ask him how best to prepare for big playoff games, he'd be more than happy to share advice.

But he doesn't want to over-complicate matters.

"If I was in that position where I was a young guy going into [the playoffs], I wouldn't ask anything - just go into it, take it all in stride and soak it up," Subban said. "It's almost like every time you play in the playoffs, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you get to play for the Cup. You've just got to enjoy every moment of it."

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