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You've heard the phrase buy the farm. The Predators have a little different take: buy into the farm.

As Nashville's NHL team prepared for its third consecutive playoff appearance, it pointed to an often overlooked source of its success - the Milwaukee Admirals.

"I have been a big proponent that your minor league team has to have a winning culture," Predators Coach Barry Trotz said. "Then the guys who come up, they don't expect anything different."

The Admirals have become one of the American Hockey League's top squads, qualifying for the playoffs each of the last five seasons and winning the Calder Cup in 2004. Milwaukee's all-time AHL playoff record is 35-21, including 8-3 in championship series games.

Seven current Predators played in at least 40 games for Milwaukee the previous three seasons.

"It's definitely a good organization for learning and bringing up young players," said defenseman Greg Zanon, who spent three seasons in Milwaukee. "They are installing a lot of winning down there, and now we are installing winning up here."

The Predators said credit for Milwaukee's success goes to Coach Claude Noel, who employs a system similar to the one used by Nashville.

"Claude Noel is an unbelievable coach," defenseman Ryan Suter said. "He gets you ready to play and wants you to play in the NHL. Everyone who has been down there has experienced how important it is to him that down there we are successful so when we come up here we are even more successful."

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