On Thursday, right outside the dressing room where the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrated their Stanley Cup championship just a few short months ago, the Predators spoke to the media upon their return for 2017 training camp.
Here are some news and notes as camp gets underway.
Finding Closure and Staying Hungry
General manager David Poile said last week that he didn’t really want to move on from the Stanley Cup Final run.
For the players on the ice, they want to take the good out of the run and use it as motivation to get back to the same spot. At the same time, the empty feeling of coming up short can also serve as a boost.
“It’s not a great feeling when you get that close to winning and you don’t get the result that you wanted, but I think that, even after the game was over, just the optimism of ‘hey, we have a lot of guys in this room that gained a lot of experience from this run that maybe didn’t have any playoff experience before the run started,’” said P.K. Subban.
“So I think a lot of those guys are coming in here and understand what it takes to get to that point, and now we know we have to be even better to surpass it and get to our ultimate goal. We can’t afford to look that far ahead. Right now, the goal is to just be a better team everyday, just come into the rink and improve as the season goes on, and that was our focus last year.”
“That’s how I feel right now, and especially with just being injured and not being able to be out there and help contribute,” he said. “It gives me more motivation to have a good, healthy year and to try and give myself a chance to play in that situation. Like I said, though, right now, just trying to take it day by day and working as a team to improve.”
Goaltender Pekka Rinne, who expressed his feelings about the Final run in a Players’ Tribune story back in July, had flashbacks to June when he came back to Bridgestone this week.
He knows those memories will stay with him every time he comes into the building, and he’s okay with that.
Regular Season Emphasis
‘Member when the Predators didn’t make the playoffs until the final weeks of the regular season?
These players certainly do, and they don’t want to let it come down to the wire like that again.
“A lot of people don’t talk about it, but we were a team fighting to be in a playoff spot at Christmastime and in November and in March and then I know that we had a number of injuries and we didn’t have our full team for pretty much the whole season, but once we did get everybody back together, we were able to put together a solid run, which put us in the playoffs,” Subban said. “It speaks volumes for what the regular season is all about there’s ups and downs, there’s ebbs and flows, but you’ve got to ride the wave and just focus on what you can control, and that’s getting better as a team every day.”
Subban also emphasized how important home ice advantage is in the playoffs, and how much they enjoyed the home games they did have during their 2017 run.
0 to 100% Real Quick
Both Johansen and Kevin Fiala suffered fairly gruesome injuries during the Predators’ playoff run, but to the surprise of some, both are ready to roll this season.
“It’s been great,” Johansen said of his recovery. “100%. It’s good to go.”
Johansen likely expected to be ready for the opening of camp, but for Fiala, his recovery went significantly faster than even his doctors expected.
“It was a long way, but right now, I’m full 100% and it went very quickly,” Fiala said. “They thought it was going to be much longer, so I’m just very happy.”
Fiala also said that he had watched video of his injury once or twice after it happened, but has not been able to bring himself to watch it again.
The Predators will be on the ice all weekend long, culminating in a scrimmage on Sunday at Ford Ice Center at 2 PM.