8:00 PM CDT | FS-TN (HD) - Versus (HD) - CBC (HD) | 102.9 FM
Okay, everyone hit reset. Yes, the Nashville Predators have won four playoff games for the first time in team history, but when the puck drops tonight, those will count for very little. The celebration of the series victory over the Anaheim Ducks must now come to an end, because it's time to beat the Vancouver Canucks.
If you thought that the Western Conference quarterfinal series was intense and nerve-wracking, then you have another thing coming - the competition is now stiffer, the stakes higher, and the heart attacks more frequent. This semifinal series will require every ounce of fortitude that the Predators possess, and when they find themselves running out, they'll have to dig even deeper.
That's not to say that the task is impossible, in fact, it's quite doable. There are chinks in Vancouver's armor, many of which were exposed against the Blackhawks in round one - it's simply a matter of getting contributions from all over the lineup and exploiting advantages to their fullest.
The Preds must not enter the series with any sense of complacency from finally getting over the proverbial hump, because just "happy to be here" will quickly turn into the wrong end of a handshake line. While getting past the quarterfinals was a watershed moment for the franchise, it's as Ryan Suter stated after game six - nobody remembers who wins in the first round.
I'm in no way ready for this ride to end, and I don't get the feeling the Preds are, either. We've seen them beat the Canucks during the regular season and get beaten by them; the season series ended in a 2-2 tie. What will happen when the pressure's on? Who knows, but after Games 5 & 6 against the Ducks, I believe.
Lineups after the jump.
Tonight's projected lineups:
#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
Nov 03, 1982
#1 / Goalie / Vancouver Canucks
Apr 04, 1979