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Preds Seek Comradery, Defining Win on Long Road Trip

Preds Practice Ponderings for Oct. 31: Hartnell, Forsberg Relish Team Bonding on California Trip

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

After a month full of one game here, two games there; it's time to break out the big suitcases.

The Predators embarked on a four-game road trip on Tuesday afternoon, bound for California for three of those contests, all of which will come in a span of four nights.

The time away from home offers not only a chance for the Preds to continue to cure up areas of their game they feel have been lacking through the first few weeks, but also an opportunity to strengthen that comradery which is essential to team success.

That, and of course some good-natured ribbing.

"Probably the one thing that I'll miss most when I'm done playing is dinners with the guys on the road," Preds forward Scott Hartnell said. "You get together, you're talking about life or stupid things - nowadays you talk about Instagram and things like that - but it's fun to get with the boys and talk hockey, watch highlights, play cards on the plane, things like that. It's those little things like that just make it a truly unique and awesome job that we do have."

While the Preds would always prefer playing at home at Bridgestone Arena, at the same time, the feeling of going into an opponent's building and silencing the supporters is just as rewarding.

As the Predators look to improve upon their 5-4-2 record to this point, one of the simpler aspects of the game could be a focus during Wednesday's outing in San Jose (9:30 p.m. CT on NBCSN), as the trip continues.

"I don't think we're shooting the puck enough," Hartnell said of what could be better in Nashville's game. "When we shoot the puck, it seems like good things happen. You watch the goals scored around the League every night, it's not always highlight-reel goals. They're tips, screens, rebounds, goalies let in soft ones every now and again, so for us it's simplifying our game, getting pucks to the net and getting bodies there. That's one thing that's been lacking I think, especially 5-on-5."

"We've had a lot of good games where we haven't gotten points, and a couple of bad ones that we just have to forget about," Nashville forward Filip Forsberg added. "We've been playing really well for periods of games and slipping down periods, too. I think that's the biggest thing, just try to keep that level high all the time."

After the Predators meet the Sharks, a Western Conference Final rematch awaits in Anaheim on Friday night (at 9 p.m.). Two playoff series between the Preds and Ducks in as many seasons has done plenty to build a rivalry that was already strong.

Although there won't be nearly as much on the line this time around, that stop in Orange County is still bound to have a bit of animosity, much to the chagrin of Hartnell, back in the Western Conference for the first time in a decade.

"Watching the series against Anaheim last year, it was physical, there were fights, big hits, just some old school kinds of hockey and it's exciting to be a part of," Hartnell said. "That's the part of my game I love, I love the physical part of it and to be on the Preds side is very fun for me."

Nashville will finish the California swing on Saturday in Los Angeles (at 9:30 p.m.) before winding up in Columbus next Tuesday (at 6 p.m.) before returning to Tennessee.

It of course remains to be seen how the Predators perform over the coming week, but one thing is for certain - to receive consecutive tests such as these upcoming matchups will give the club a real chance to see how they stack up against some of the League's best in the early going.

"Going on the road and getting some wins and building something on the road, there's always something to be said for that," Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "I think if you've been around long enough you've come back from road trips and [you've been successful] and then I've been on road trips that go the other way, too. But our group is ready to go on the road. I feel like we're in a good place to win some hockey games."

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