The 2017 Western Conference Champions banner at Bridgestone Arena will have some company next fall.
A 4-3 win in Washington on Thursday night clinched the first Central Division title for the Predators in franchise history, as well as a regular-season Western Conference title.
But as the Predators retired to their locker room, plenty of jubilation in tow already, a game in South Florida grabbed their attention. A few cell phones streaming the Panthers and Bruins made their way out into the open, and just moments after clinching the Central and the West, the Predators watched, as a team, the Presidents’ Trophy come their way, too.
Quite a 15-minute span in the nation’s capital.
“Every rink you go to, there’s so many banners up there and we only have one banner,” Josi said. “[Winning the division, and possibly more] was definitely one of our goals. It’s such a great organization, and I’m so lucky to have been a part of it for such a long time.”
“It’s pretty special,” Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “I think we’ve been working toward that goal the entire year, and really the entire time I’ve been here. A lot of people say it’s the hardest division in the League, and I think year in, year out we find out how hard it really is. Tonight, to add a banner up there, it’s a good feeling for the guys.”
Perhaps it was somewhat appropriate that Craig Smith played a notable role in the victory.
As one of the longest-tenured Preds, having skated all 515 games of his career with Nashville, Smith has seen highs and lows over the seven seasons, but lately, it just keeps getting better and better.
“It’s big for the organization,” Smith said. “A lot of guys have put in a lot of hard work and a lot of time to produce a season like that. It’s cool so far and we’re having fun with it, but we’re staying game by game here. We’re having fun with each other and holding each other accountable to get out there and play for each other, so it’s great.”
The Predators began the season with plenty they wanted to acheive. Capturing a Central Division title was one of them. And there’s still so much more to do.
“It’s definitely something we’re proud of, but obviously the main goal remains to win the Stanley Cup,” Josi said.
With two tallies on Thursday, Craig Smith hit the 25-goal mark for the first time in his career.
Eeli Tolvanen was scratched for Nashville after skating in the first three games of his career against the Sabres, Lightning and Panthers.
The Predators will now return home to host their regular-season finale on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin this week, with Nashville set to host Games 1 and 2 of their Round One Series.
A full postseason schedule will be released once the 2017-18 NHL regular season has concluded. Stay tuned to NashvillePredators.com for everything you need to know on Nashville’s quest for the Cup by visiting NashvillePredators.com/playoffs.
President Cup Winning Preds Ready for Playoffs