After experiencing a bad season in 2012-13, the Nashville Predators are taking a new mindset into this year, including the preseason.
The preseason isn’t necessarily about wins and losses as much as it is about finding out who is going to play for the team and what sort of identity the team is going to have. The Predators have made no secret about what sort of identity they are looking to have this season. Nashville wants to be a team that is very hard to play against. In other words, they want to get back to Predator hockey.
“Just because it’s preseason, that doesn’t mean anything. We’re taking it just as serious as the regular season. Our goal from day one of camp was to come in and play hard and make teams know who we are right away, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” said Predators defenseman Victor Bartley.
Their seems to be a totally different mindset inside the Predators’ locker room during training camp this season than there was at any point last season. It’s as if last season was a huge wake-up call. They never established their identity last season, even before the onslaught of injuries. It doesn’t appear that will be the case this season.
“It’s a new season now,” said Predators forward Nick Spaling. “This season is just about totally changing it around. It’s about every night coming and playing with our team identity, which is to out-work the other team no matter who it is. We’re playing fast, hard hockey this year, and nothing else is acceptable.”
“It’s a lot tougher out here,” Bartley said. “It’s definitely not country club around here, so we’re taking things seriously and are going to go in there and work hard and play like a Predator, just like our saying.”
That change in mindset has resulted in one of the most intense training camps the Predators have had. There is lots of open competition for roster spots and lots of motivation to prove that last season is not going to become a trend in the Music City.
“It’s been awesome,” Bartley said. “Guys are coming to the rink every day battling hard because you never know who’s going to get that last spot. Guys are ready, guys are prepared, and it’s not like there’s any animosity here between each other. Guys are pushing each other hard and that’s great competition, and that’s just going to make the team better.”
With two weeks remaining until the beginning of the regular season, the Predators will have to make some roster cuts in the next couple of weeks. That should increase the level of competition even more. Once the roster is set and the regular season begins, we’ll see just how much this new mindset will help the Predators on the ice this season.