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Preds Practice Ponderings: Oct. 9

Scott Hartnell Set for Second Nashville Debut; Preds Ready to Raise Banner in Home Opener

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

Scott Hartnell is ripe for his Nashville debut - part two.

The veteran winger and his teammates host their home opener on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers at Bridgestone Arena, perhaps the most anticipated such occurrence in franchise history.

The scheduled unveiling and raising of the Western Conference Championship banner may have something to do with that, coupled with a hockey-crazed city's desire to see their team once more.

And for Hartnell, who returned to the Predators this summer after beginning his career with them 17 years ago, it's come full circle, in a way. Tuesday's opponent is where Hartnell went via trade after his first stint in Nashville and proceeded to enjoy the most statistically successful seasons of his career.

After a stop in Columbus, Hartnell is back in the building where it all began, hoping to contribute to his own Nashville banner over the coming months.

"There's going to be so much energy, a lot of enthusiasm," Hartnell said of the home opener. "I'm looking forward to it, and hopefully we don't disappoint."

The return home is a welcome reprieve for the Preds after they dropped their first two on the road in Boston and Pittsburgh to start the season. Hartnell listed the energy through two games as an issue for his club, stating they haven't played hard enough to be successful.

"You don't want to start poorly," Hartnell said. "Every loss, they mount up, lessens your chance of getting into the playoffs and that's what we're all about here. We have to take care of our home games."

Even though it's been a decade since he scored a goal on home ice in Nashville, Hartnell certainly hasn't forgotten what to expect.

"The crowd here is always loud and obnoxious and ready to fire it up, so hopefully we'll hear some Tim McGraw for a few big goals," he said. "I'm looking to get things going here at home on the right foot. We had a tough couple of road games, and I'm looking forward to getting two points."

Raise It Up:

Once the puck drops on Tuesday night between the Predators and Flyers, the focus will shift to board battles and special teams, forechecks and body checks.

But for a few moments prior, a ceremony will be held, a first for the Nashville franchise.

Unveiled on the ice below, a banner stamped with the Preds logo and the script declaring them 2016-17 Western Conference Champions will rise to the rafters to represent everything the group has accomplished, and ideally, what's still ahead.

"It's the only banner up there, so it was a proud moment in the franchise," Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "You move on, you look to get better and see if you can raise a better banner. But certainly what happened and the banner going up and our fans back in the building, that'll all provide for a pretty emotional and special night."

For Preds players, the banner represents one final moment to reminisce on the previous season before focusing on the future. As the season goes along, all they have to do is turn their heads skyward for a reminder of what they're capable of - and they hardly want to stop at one.

"I think we're going to enjoy that moment, but we're also looking forward to building on that," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "Nobody in here was satisfied with the run that we had last year. We're not looking far ahead, we just want to take it one day at a time and get better as a team every day.

"But we'll definitely enjoy that moment of having an accomplishment last year of being Western Conference Champions. A lot of guys play on different teams throughout their career and don't ever see a banner go up. To be a part of it, you definitely want to take the good out of that."

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