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Poile, Laviolette, Ready for Preds to Write New Story as Playoffs Begin

Nashville General Manager, Head Coach Believe Regular-Season Adversity Will Benefit Club in Postseason

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

Predators General Manager David Poile is known for his quick wit tossed with a dash of sarcasm from time to time.

As he stepped to the microphones to address a throng of media on Sunday morning just 12 hours after his club clinched their second-consecutive Central Division title, that humor was the first thing on display.

"Well, that was an easy season," Poile quipped.

And yet, for everything the Preds dealt with over the couple of the past seven months and 82 games - injuries, inconsistencies and the like, here they stand on April 7, another regular season come and gone, with their fifth-consecutive playoff berth and another division crown.

Now, the moment all 31 teams begin training camp working toward is finally here.

The Predators will host the Dallas Stars in Game 1 on Wednesday night (at 8:30 p.m. CT) to begin their run in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, a journey the Preds - as well as the other 15 clubs vying for the ultimate prize - hope will last over the course of two months and 16 wins.

Video: Preds GM David Poile talks Preds vs. Stars

"To clinch the Central Division for the second-consecutive year, that's the first time that's been done in 10 years, so I'm proud of our guys and excited about the playoffs," Poile said.

"Mentally and physically, I think we're in a good spot," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "We got tested down the stretch here and challenged ourselves and came out on top, so I think that's good from a mental standpoint. From a physical standpoint, I think everybody will be available to me for the start of the playoffs, so that's a positive thing."

Those inside the Nashville locker room are in a good mood, too, aided by three-straight wins to close out the campaign, including the last two which required the Preds to overcome a pair of two-goal, first-period deficits.

They lived to tell about it, and now they're trending in the right direction with the first contest just three days away. However, the Predators don't expect recent events to carry them past their opening opponent. Instead, they know the only thing that will matter when the puck drops are the effort and execution in that singular moment.

"I still feel like what's going to matter on Wednesday is not necessarily if you go 8-2-1 or 2-8-1 down the stretch," Laviolette said. "What matters on Wednesday is us waking up and being prepared and going out and executing and doing our job. That will matter most. But finishing the season strong, I do think gives our guys some confidence, and that's a good thing."

Another positive to take? The experience and adversity absorbed throughout this roster.

Think back to this time last season. The Predators had just completed their best regular-season in franchise history to come away with the Presidents' Trophy with the top record in the entire League.

It wasn't as if the Preds coasted through the 2017-18 regular season - there was still plenty of hard work that was completed - but the more recent period of time has seen a different bout of obstacles, and that's not a bad thing.

"I guess you would say that our core has been here for a number of years right now, and they don't seem to be too rattled under any situation," Poile said.

There could already be a compelling motion picture made about the 2018-19 version of the Preds to this point, but as the playoffs arrive, there are always a few more scripts to be written, particularly by those who may not be top of mind.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Stanley Cup Playoffs every year are those individuals who simply find a way to rise up to make that critical difference when it matters most. Oftentimes, it's not the main protagonist, but rather someone in a supporting role.

Video: Coach Laviolette previews Round One

"We know a lot from history that's been written about guys that come through the playoffs that have taken their game from a situation where they weren't a top player or weren't having an exactly good year and they've turned it around and become the best player in the playoffs," Poile said. "We need lots of players to raise their game to a higher level and accomplish more than they've ever accomplished before."

The NHL postseason might just be the most compelling reality programming available over the next two months, and the Predators wouldn't mind playing a prominent role, even if it means making a few enemies along the way.

No matter the ending, every good story has a slew of emotions, and there are sure to be plenty in the days and weeks to come.

Just as long as the tears are happy when the credits roll.

"You work through this marathon of an 82-game schedule to get this opportunity to participate in the playoffs which gives you the chance to possibly win the Stanley Cup," Poile said. "That's what it's all about… and I can't wait for the playoffs."

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