To say the Nashville Predators were displeased with how they performed during their preseason finale on Saturday night, a 7-1 defeat at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets, would be accurate. Maybe even an understatement.
But after an up-tempo, intense practice on Sunday afternoon at Centennial Sportsplex, the Preds are ready to move on from training camp and the preseason to focus on Opening Night, now only three days away.
“After Saturday night it was pretty disappointing,” defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “We didn’t feel good about our game, but rather than kind of sit a dwell on it, it’s nice to have some battle and push the pace out here and get back to what we want to do.”
“We’ve got to get ready for Carolina,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “The way we practiced out there was the way we needed to play last night against Columbus, we were just missing the gas pedal. We’ll have a good week of practice and we’ll be ready.”
The sense of disappointment on Saturday was reversed less than 24 hours later, with the players considering Sunday as the true beginning of the 2015-16 season, a chance to start fresh and work toward their ultimate goal, starting against the Hurricanes on Thursday.
“That’s what we’ve been talking about; this is the start of the season,” Ellis said. “It’s week one and we’re going to look forward to our next game against Carolina. Whatever happened in the preseason, whether we won them all or lost them all, it doesn’t really matter, it’s about moving forward to our next game.”
The Predators received a well-deserved day off on Monday before they return to work on Tuesday for two days of practice, a chance to recharge and then revamp in preparation for the grind of the NHL season.
“We need two days of hard and fast competition to get back to feeling good about ourselves and look forward to Thursday,” forward Mike Fisher said. “We’re looking at it as just getting mentally ready, physically prepared, getting ramped up and making sure we’re just all individually ready.”
The Preds would’ve preferred to finish the exhibition schedule on a high, but if Sunday’s practice was any indication, there shouldn’t be any lack of gumption present when the club opens its 17th season on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena. If that fervor, combined with the skill throughout the lineup is in place, the Predators feel they can beat any team in the League.
“We had a pretty successful year last season, and we’re trying to move into the second year of that and bring the same intensity about our game,” Ellis said. “We’re all good players in here, but it’s about the intensity; when we bring that, we’re a pretty hard team to stop.”
“I think we’re ready,” defenseman Roman Josi said. “We have two more practices before the game to work on some things that we can do better, but everybody’s ready. Everybody’s excited about the team and we’re going to be fired up for the game Thursday.”