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Not so very long ago, the Nashville Predators returned to Bridgestone Arena, tied with the Anaheim Ducks 1-1 in their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
You know the rest.
That's not to say that the Anaheim series and this series with the Vancouver Canucks are similar, far from it - but heading into Game 3, the Preds have accomplished what they needed to. Home ice advantage is in their hands. Put it this way - if the Predators can win three games at home, they'll find themselves in the conference finals.
Those home games begin tonight (note the special start time). In Game 2, Nashville rediscovered the game plan for beating Vancouver. The Predators' defensemen kept the shot totals down, giving up only 33 over 95 minutes, and they continued to neutralize the Canucks' big 3 of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Ryan Kesler.
It would be foolish to think that Vancouver's offense can be completely contained over a seven game series. They'll score, and at times it will be often. Nashville, though, has beaten the Canucks three times this year. In those three wins, Vancouver's scored a whopping total of two goals.
The moral of the story is this - the Canucks have some quality complimentary players in Mason Raymond, Chris Higgins, Alexandre Burrows, and occasionally Raffi Torres, but they are incapable of winning games on their own.
If the Predators can stymie the big 3 three more times, stay disciplined, defensively responsible, and add a fair amount of Pekka Rinne, then this is an extremely winnable series. It's a laundry list, to be sure, but this is a team that is making a habit out of defying the odds. Just ask Matt Halischuk.
Five down. Time for the Nashville Predators to make it ten to go.
Tonight's projected lineups:
#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
Nov 03, 1982
|2010 - Pekka Rinne - playoffs||8||500||5||3||21||2.52||216||195||.903||0|
#1 / Goalie / Vancouver Canucks
Apr 04, 1979
|2010 - Roberto Luongo - playoffs||9||498||5||3||19||2.29||241||222||.921||2|