Despite an offseason roster overhaul, the Nashville Predators feel they can improve upon the deepest playoff run in franchise history.
Some much-needed additions have the Columbus Blue Jackets also feeling good about their chances of reaching the postseason.
The Predators and Blue Jackets renew their Central Division rivalry when they open the 2011-12 season at Nationwide Arena on Friday night.
Nashville (44-27-11) has reached six of the last seven postseasons, but hadn't advanced beyond the opening round until last spring, when the Predators defeated Anaheim in six games before being eliminated in six by eventual Western Conference champion Vancouver.
"We were all disappointed last year," defenseman Shea Weber said. "Obviously, we were close to being in the third round. Our goal wasn't to get to the second round, so it was disappointing that we lost. So I think guys have got to realize we have to get off to a good start, and it's going to pay dividends later on in the season."