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As Training Camp Opens, Preds Have High Expectations

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / NashvillePredators.com

One of the dominant buzzwords at the first official media availability of the Nashville Predators 2016-17 season was, well, buzz.

There's a good reason for it, too. There's no denying the anticipation surrounding a team that advanced further in the postseason than they ever had before, just one win from their first Western Conference Final appearance. Add that to the offseason acquisition of All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban to an already potent lineup, and the potential that exists in the Nashville locker room is one that hasn't been seen before.

Those who will be tasked with taking those possibilities and turning them into reality spoke on the subject, and while it's easy to be optimistic on the first day of training camp, there's a belief around the organization that those sentiments aren't outlandish.

"Since I've been here, it seems that we've taken a step in the right direction every single year," forward Colin Wilson said. "I think last year was indicative of that… We have a lot of young, exciting players, and I think that'll definitely translate out on the ice."

Video: Preds forward Ryan Johansen addresses the media

Just as they did in the spring of 2015, the Predators continued to get a taste of what it feels like to have success in the playoffs in 2016. It's something that veterans like James Neal will reinforce as the season goes along - what it's like to be in those situations and how to get back there, and then beyond.

"Those are tough series, tough games, and I think you learn from that," Neal said. "You want that winning feeling; there's nothing better, so to bring that back and to do it this year will be fun."

Assuming his role as captain on Day One, Mike Fisher has seen his team through the highs and the lows over the past five-plus seasons. He says he'll never forget the memories that transpired last spring, and as the new season begins, the captain expects his hockey club to replicate those instances, and then some.

"We feel like we're a team that is very, very good and we're going to contend," Fisher said. "We have a lot of confidence in who we are as a team, how we want to play and how we want to be successful. It's going to take a lot of work… but we're confident in who we are and believing that we can win."

Video: Preds captain Mike Fisher speaks to the media

When it's all said and done, only one team out of 30 will emerge on the winning side of the final handshake line, but someone has to do it. The Preds can feel the buzz, and for them, there's no better feeling.

"I think finally we've overcome the expectations of just making it to the playoffs… now, everyone is viewing our team, in this city and as fans, as us to be contenders for the Stanley Cup," forward Ryan Johansen said. "It's always your goal at the start of the season to be the best team you can be and try to win a Stanley Cup, but when it starts becoming a reachable goal and almost a reality for our group, it's very exciting."

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