NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With the start of every NHL season comes an overabundance of predictions on how the playoff landscape will look come April, and who will ultimately be crowned the next Stanley Cup champion. These prognostications are virtually useless in the grand scheme of things, but they tend to play a big role in setting the narratives for the upcoming campaign.

To no surprise, most writers have picked the Nashville Predators to miss the playoffs in 2013-14, basing this mostly off their 2012-13 record and lack of elite goal-scoring talent. Five of the seven panelists at Yahoo! Sports have Nashville falling short of the postseason, as does Sporting News, The Hockey News, The Fourth Period, theScoreamong many others.

When a team is pegged as a non-playoff squad before the puck drops, players will typically choose to ignore the criticism or use it as motivation. The Preds, for the most part, seem to be opting for the former.

Here’s what a few guys had to say on the matter after Wednesday’s practice:

Eric Nystrom:

You tell me who the experts are, ’cause they’re not sitting in this dressing room. I don’t pay attention to any of that; personally I could care less what those guys think. Only thing I care about is what the guys in this locker room think, what the coaches think and what management thinks. Those other people — good. Whatever. They have no idea. It’s not last year, it’s a new team. You can’t predict how a team’s going to do before a season starts. What’s on paper doesn’t matter nearly as much as most people think. It all comes down to who executes and who doesn’t. We don’t care what they say at the beginning of the season, we care what they say at the end of the season.

Pekka Rinne:

We can’t pay attention to that stuff. We don’t need the negative emotions, and even when they pick us to do good, we can’t pay attention to that either. We just have to play our game and trust that we know we have what it takes to win this season. And I think we do have what it takes, we look a lot better than last year and not everyone — especially those not in Nashville — haven’t had a chance to see that yet. Hopefully they will soon.

Nick Spaling:

Some teams pay attention to that stuff, sure, but we don’t. It can be motivation I guess, but we have all the motivation we need right here. It’s all about being confident in what we have in the room and trusting in each other. I think we have a good group in here. We’re all confident in ourselves. We know things are different now and we’re ready to get going. Experts can write about what they want, but in the end it doesn’t matter at all.

Rich Clune:

Things are a lot different this year, and you have to be in this locker room to see it. There’s a different feeling here and we’re going to prove a lot of people wrong … We’re going to be a lot harder to play against [this] year. Now we have strength in numbers, and we’re going to come at you in waves. We’re going to control pucks down low, and we’re going to have our opponents wanting to make early changes ’cause they aren’t going to want to play against us … as for the so-called experts, they don’t get it, and we don’t need that negativity. We’ll be just fine on our own.

About The Author

Andrew Hirsh is a graduate of Elon University and is entering his fourth year as a credentialed NHL writer. He founded SunbeltHockey.com in 2012 and serves as the site's managing editor. Andrew can be reached via email at ahirsh3@gmail.com.

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