NASHVILLE, Tennessee — The Nashville Predators have spent this summer thinking of what might have happened after losing their first-round playoff series to the eventual Stanley Cup champs, the Chicago Blackhawks.
Now they're ready to get back to work.
The Predators reported for training camp Thursday and hit the ice Friday ready to show that last season was no fluke. They also want to prove that they can finish what they start after sitting atop the Western Conference for a chunk of last winter. General manager David Poile said his message to the Predators was to control their own destiny.
"There's no question there's a lot of parity in the National Hockey League," Poile said. "I think there's a lot of good teams, but the good news is I think we're one of the good teams."
The Predators went 47-25-10 with 104 points in coach Peter Laviolette's debut season in Nashville. But they lost 19 of their final 27 games, missing out on their first Central Division title. They then blew leads in two games before losing to Chicago in six games.
"Last year we felt we were that close," captain Shea Weber said. "That's a tough series against the eventual Stanley Cup champions. You need a bounce or two to go the other way. It could've been totally different, but it didn't and now we've got to make our own way."
Here are some things to watch this preseason out of the Predators:
HEALTHY WEBER: The dislocated right kneecap that knocked Weber out in the second game of that series with Chicago is no longer an issue. Weber had surgery in late April and recovered quickly enough to allow him plenty of time to train this summer.
NEW FACES: The Predators didn't change much on this roster, but they did sign veteran defenseman Barrett Jackman from St. Louis and forward Cody Hodgson of Buffalo. Goalie Pekka Rinne smiled when asked about having Jackman playing in front of him this season, and Weber said they're excited to have a physical player who blocks a lot of shots.
YOUNG PREDATORS: Nashville has a handful of young forwards trying to push their way onto the NHL roster led by 19-year-old Kevin Fiala, Viktor Arvidsson and Austin Watson. Fiala was Nashville's first draft pick in 2014, and the Predators called him up late last season. Fiala played in one regular season game and in one playoff game.
OLD ROOKIE: Steve Moses may be the most intriguing player in camp for Nashville. He's a 26-year-old rookie from Leominster, Massachusetts, who has been playing in the KHL. Poile said the Predators need to see where the 5-foot-9 Moses fits in after scouting him. Coaches have seen Moses skate a bit recently, and Poile said Moses caught their eye with his speed. "They haven't seen him integrate with our team," Poile said. "This is where first impressions are going to be really important and how he gets used in preseason games and how successful he's going to be. He's got to get off to a quick start."
NEW LIGHTING: The Predators are the NHL's latest team to switch to LED lighting, helping eliminate shadows both for players and fans. The move also will be a big money-saver on the electric bill but also help the team keep the ice a bit cooler in Nashville.
MOVES: Nashville announced defenseman Trevor Murphy has signed a three-year entry-level contract. Murphy took part in the team's development camp in July and their rookie camp last week, and he's currently at training camp.
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