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Predators Game Day Preview: Nashville @ Chicago, Game 2

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So that was fun, wasn't it? Game One, I mean. If you follow Nashville closely at all, you probably weren't very surprised with the result. The Predators are best when everything's against them and in close games, both of which happened Friday. 

Anyway, as Barry Trotz said in his postgame presser, we need short memories. The Predators lead the series 1-0, and are guaranteed at least a tie headed back to Music City, but thats no reason to change anything or let up. 

Thoughts, lineups, and some video below...

Where to Watch

Bleachers Sports Grill in Franklin will be hosting a viewing party for tonight's game (7:30 start), per the gang at Section303.com. The game will be on Fox Sports TN for all you loc als, and nationally it will be joined in progress on Versus.

Nashville

The Predators didn't do anything particularly well on Friday, but they made very few mistakes, which was a recipe for the perfect road game. Nashville hit just about everything in sight (Jason Arnott had five hits), kept people away from Pekka Rinne, and created turnovers (see JP Dumont's second goal). The two power plays they had were ineffective (one was cut short), but they stayed out of the box again and killed off Chicago's two man advantages. 

If I'm Barry Trotz, there are very few things that need changing. Perhaps inserting Dustin Boyd in favor of Nick Spaling, but otherwise the gameplan was executed to perfection. Keys to tonight's game, which will no doubt be much harder to win:

  • Weather the early storm. Joel Quenneville is not going to let his team get out-hustled again. 
  • Shoot. A lot. As Dumont learned on Friday, Antti Niemi isn't very comfortable seeing many shots. 
  • Most of all, do everything they did in Game One. That worked out OK. 

In Net

If Rinne didn't answer questions about him being the better goaltender, then I have no idea what people want. He only made 25 saves, but a handful were of the dazzling variety, getting his stick in the way of a wide open net or stoning Patrick Sharp on a breakaway that I had chalked up as a goal.

Pekka Rinne

#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-5

206

Nov 03, 1982

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Pekka Rinne 1 60 1 0 1 1.00 26 25 .962 0

As WKRN's Cory Curtis profiles, Pekka answered the call in his first NHL playoff start:


Injuries

While Patric Hornqvist only played 13 minutes and change, Barry Trotz said in his postgame press conference that everything was OK, so we'll take his word for it. Cody Franson played just over five minutes, which leads one to believe that the more experienced Denis Grebeshkov will take his place today to spark a lethargic power play.

Projected Lineup

Forwards
Wilson - Arnott (C) - Erat
Sullivan (A) - Goc - Hornqvist
Ward - Legwand - Dumont
Tootoo - Spaling - Smithson
Defense
Suter - Weber (A)
Hamhuis - Franson
Bouillon - Klein
Grebeshkov

Chicago

Second City Hockey:

Even with what looks like an ugly 3rd, the Preds still required a fluky goal and a turnover from Troy Brouwer that warrants jail time to take the lead.  Though they kept the Hawks play in their zone for a majority of the 3rd and were immaculate in their defensive zone, Niemi didn't have to make save after save. 

...

It's best of 7, kids, not best of 1.  While I feel the Hawks can turn their play up a couple notches, I feel like that's Nashville's best punch, and the Hawks are going to have to match and exceed it.  No one said this was going to be a sweep, and I honestly won't be shocked if the Hawks - now knowing they can' just show up and win - rip off the next four.  The answers are coming, Neo.

In Net

Wonder how short the leash is?

Antti Niemi

#31 / Goalie / Chicago Blackhawks

6-2

210

Aug 29, 1983

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Antti Niemi 1 59 0 1 82 2.00 24 22 .917 0

Projected Lineup

Forwards
Sharp (A) - Toews (C)  - Hossa
Brouwer - Bolland - Kane
Versteeg - Madden - Ladd
Fraser - Kopecky- Eager
Defense
Byfuglien - Keith (A)
Seabrook - Hjalmarsson
Hendry - Sopel

Injuries

Chicago Blackhawks Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Kim Johnsson concussion 03/14/2010
Brian Campbell collarbone 03/15/2010

Fearless Prediction

The encouraging thing about Game 1 was that Nashville brought their A-game defensively and energetically, which was good for a three goal win. The bad news was Chicago was unable to generate offense, which you know will not last all series. Many things need to go the Predators' way in Game 2 in order to steal the Hawks blind again. Expect a big bounce back from the Blackhawks. Chicago 4, Nashville 2.