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Simmonds, Boyle Built for Postseason Run with Preds

Nashville Forwards Ready to Use Size, Physicality, Experience in Playoffs with New Club

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

Wayne Simmonds is just one of those players.

If he's a member of the opposition, you're probably not a fan. But once he's on your side, well, there aren't many people you'd rather have in your corner than Simmonds - especially once the Stanley Cup Playoffs arrive.

Just two days out from the Predators hosting the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of their first-round series, the Nashville winger is gearing up for his seventh-career appearance in the postseason, but his first as a member of the Preds.

Acquired at the trade deadline, players like Simmonds are made for this time of the year, and No. 17 can't wait to get going.

"I'm extremely excited. That's what you play 82 games for, you play 82 games just to get to the start of the playoffs, and then nothing's promised from there," Simmonds said. "The intensity ramps up, it's a really physical game and everybody starts hitting. Every single guy in the lineup is hitting, and it's just exciting hockey. I think it's a better brand of hockey."

Like Simmonds, Preds forward Brian Boyle was also brought in prior to the deadline due in part to the postseason experience he possesses. Wednesday will mark his ninth appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs - two of those have resulted in runs to the Final - and Boyle has embraced his place on this team to perfection since his first arrived, a quality that has endeared him to teammates and coaches alike.

Video: Simmonds, Watson preview postseason

"As a guy like me who's been around for a little while, but not necessarily a top-six guy, you have to try to be able to play wing and be able to play center and fit into different roles, and I've tried to do that," Boyle said. "[Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette] has been really good straightforward with me and my role and what's expected, and that helps too quite a bit.

"We have a great opportunity here as a club. We need to take advantage of it, and make the most of it."

Together, along with Calle Jarnkrok in the middle, Boyle and Simmonds are making up a formidable trio for Nashville up front on the fourth line, if you can even call it that. It's more of a three-A or a two-B option, with the Predators preferring to roll their units equally as much as possible over the course of a game.

For Laviolette, having Boyle and Simmonds at his disposal gives him the ability to slot them into different areas, whether it's playing the role of a net-front presence on the power play or adding the ever-important physical element that's usually necessary during the postseason.

"You're talking about a couple of guys who have a lot of playoff experience and have been through some battles," Laviolette said of Boyle and Simmonds. "They bring size, toughness and leadership, so there's lots of things that they bring to the table along with being good teammates and good players."

Video: Boyle, Rinne preview postseason

The 6-foot-2 Simmonds and 6-foot-6 Boyle aren't afraid to enact some physicality on the opposition, if necessary; as well as play some of the mind games that often come to the forefront at this time of the year when post-whistle scrums have a tendency to become the norm. But, there's still an art to the chirps and face washes.

"You've got to be strategic with it, though, like you've got to kind of play games," Simmonds said. "You're not going out there trying to take penalties. Hopefully we're going to have a good series here, and we'll see what transpires."

Whether or not that part of the game comes to the forefront will become known in time, but one thing is certain - anyone can be a hero at this time of the year, and players like Boyle and Simmonds are perfect candidates to step up when it matters most.

If nothing else, experiencing a playoff atmosphere inside of Bridgestone Arena should be more than enough motivation to do so.

"It was rocking," Simmonds said of the building during Saturday's division-clinching win. "It was unbelievable, it was a treat to be a part of and I definitely look forward to that a lot more for the rest of this year."

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