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Preds Want to Play with Desperation in Final California Trip of Season

With 12 Games Left in Regular Season, Nashville Focused on Improving Before Playoffs

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

All of a sudden, only 12 games remain in the regular season for the Predators.

Their place in the standings - currently second in the Central Division with 83 points - is a favorable one. But, with time ticking down until the playoffs arrive in Smashville once more, there are things to improve before the calendar switches to April.

Ideally, a team will go into the postseason on a bit of a hot streak and feeling positive about their overall game. At this juncture, the Predators remain confident inside of their locker room, but they also know there is work to do over the final four weeks.

The first of those four will be spent in California, the last trip out west for the Preds before the campaign concludes on April 6. Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose are the order of business, always three formidable challenges on any journey.

The first two of those three are out of the playoff picture, but at this time of the year, there is still plenty to play for, and the Predators don't expect an easy go of things against a pair of clubs who are frustrated with the way things have played out over the past few months.

But no matter what's going on across the building in the other locker room, Nashville remains intent on worrying about themselves with time winding down.

"Every game from here on out is important," Associate Captain Ryan Ellis said. "We're trying to move up, we're trying to get to the top of the Central here and get home ice as long as we can get it. Ultimately, that means every game - starting with the next - is the most important one heading down the stretch. We want to go into the playoffs feeling good and feeling confident about our group."

Who the Predators will face in the postseason remains to be seen, but there is certainly some peeking going on when it comes to the Western Conference standings.

"Everyone probably keeps an eye on it, maybe some more than others, and it's always nice to know where you stand," Ellis said. "We know we just have to win and it makes it easier knowing we have to keep pushing for each and every point."

That mentality is commonplace across the League at this time of the year, and the Predators can feel the intensity night after night. It's up to them to match it on a consistent basis, and the final 12 outings will provide plenty of opportunities to do just that, no matter where the opponent sits.

"We've started to notice that, and it's more of a playoff type of hockey," Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "At the same time, we can't worry about the other teams and how they play and how they prepare, we've got to worry about our own game and our own preparation. Going into these last 12 games it's going to go by fast. We have to be on our toes and play every game like it's our last."

Taking the big picture and condensing it down to the near future reveals a trio of matchups that will test what the Predators are made of with their new roster intact.

And while consistency has been the word of choice in the Nashville room as of late, Rinne introduced another option into the vocabulary before the plane went wheels up.

"We have to play with a lot of desperation is these last 12 games," Rinne said. "It goes by fast and quick. We keep saying it, but it really matters every single game, and I think desperation is one word that we can use, but I'm very excited for this trip. There are three really good teams, and it's another chance for us to make the mark and leave a mark. I'm very excited about it."

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