While it was certainly true at the time that Game 4 was the most important game in Nashville Predators history, the subsequent loss to the Blackhawks meant that Game 5 this afternoon has quickly taken over that mantle. When it comes to responding to adversity, we know this team well. The Predators typically respond to bad losses in resounding fashion. Thursday was Chicago's character test. Tonight is Nashville's.
To help set the table for today's game, listen in to Brian Duff from the NHL Network, speaking with the Thom Abraham Show yesterday afternoon:
Cursory thoughts, lineups, and yes, your prediction are below.
SPECIAL NOTE: Today's a 2 PM central start time, on WSMV-4 and NBC.
Game 4 was a perfect storm of things going wrong for the Predators. They were outhustled to every loose puck, allowed a special teams goal, could generate much on offense, and effectively played dead when Jonathan Toews put Chicago up 2-0. Problems that need fixing:
- The power play. I've got my fingers crossed
for Denis Grebeshkov tonight. Looks like Grebs is a no go.
- aking the body. Nashville diverted from an incredibly physical Game 3 to the play the puck instead of the carrier strategy, and it burned them on Toews' goal and Patrick Sharp's second.
If Barry Trotz can get his team back to the basics that saw them dominate the majority of two games this series, then I'm confident we can pull this one out. Tight checking and aggressive work on the forecheck go a long way towards road victories.
Only David Legwand's line generated consistent chances on Thursday.
#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
Nov 03, 1982
|2009 - Pekka Rinne||58||3246||32||16||137||2.53||1541||1404||.911||7|
In order to get a better feel on the Chicago side of things, here's SCH, asking for more out of their young captain:
There cannot be any come-down from this effort on Saturday afternoon, particularly from the Captain, in what will be the biggest game of the season to this point. Toews was once again strong on the puck and strong against the wall last night, and it's clear the Hawks need that. It's been a pretty simple equation all season long- as Toews goes, so go the Hawks. Keep it coming, Jonny.
Subject to change or correction.
#31 / Goalie / Chicago Blackhawks
Aug 29, 1983
|2009 - Antti Niemi||39||2190||26||7||82||2.25||936||854||.912||7|
The Predators were unable to bring an A+ effort in Game 4, and it cost them. Today that has to change. They need all hands on deck, especially one captain, Jason Arnott. Arnott has the ability to take over a game on offense. We've yet to see it of him this postseason. I think tonight's the night he breaks the slump. As the team's leader and someone who's been here before, he knows that Game 4 was totally unacceptable.
After being shut out in Game 2, Nashville came back and hit Chicago square in the mouth, crushing them 4-1. This is a road game, so I don't expect a blowout- but I do expect victory. Predators 2, Blackhawks 1.