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It took ten games, but we've finally arrived. The Nashville Predators are staring elimination in the face for the first time in the 2010-11 NHL playoffs, and she's a pretty ugly beast - Nashville's 0-5 all-time in elimination games, having been outscored 15-6 and shut out twice.
That, of course, was then. This is now, and we've seen that, by and large, this incarnation of the Nashville Predators is better than all of its predecessors. After all, they have a series win under their belt, in addition to icing a Norris Trophy nominee, Vezina Trophy nominee, and boasting a two-time Jack Adams Trophy nominee behind the bench. In short: there's more reason for belief than in years past.
That said, the task is daunting. Nashville has strayed from what got them to this point, and fallen in a 3-1 hole to the Vancouver Canucks. Credit is certainly due to Vancouver, who's played an outstanding series, particularly Ryan Kesler, but the Preds are clearly off their game. They must now play it, and perfectly, for three consecutive games.
Tonight's just one game, however, and winning one game's not so tall an order. One win is the difference between handshakes and golf, or returning to Nashville for a Game 6 needing just two wins to make further history.
Regardless of tonight's result, Nashville Predators fans can hold their heads high. It's been an amazing year.
I'd hold off on those eulogies, though. There's some life left in this team.
Lineups after the jump.
Tonight's projected lineups:
#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
Nov 03, 1982
Due to injuries, this is a total guess:
#1 / Goalie / Vancouver Canucks
Apr 04, 1979