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Nashville Predators @ Pittsburgh Penguins: Game 1 Preview

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If you’re nervous about tonight, just look into Roman Josi’s eyes. They’ll calm you down.

2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Media Day Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

At the start of this season, the players of thirty teams all hoped to be playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. Only two teams remain after battling through nearly 100 games. The Nashville Predators, after battling through the murderer’s row of the Western Conference Playoffs, have proven themselves worthy to fight the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins for the right to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.

It only makes sense that Pittsburgh would be the final test. In the first round, the Predators drew the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that has won three cups in the last seven years, establishing a salary-cap era dynasty.

The Predators advanced.

In the next round, the Predators drew a bruising St. Louis Blues team that knocked the Blackhawks out of the playoffs the previous year. To make matters worse, Kevin Fiala, the young Swiss forward oozing with talent and poise, went hard into the boards in game two, breaking his femur and ending his season.

The Predators advanced.

Reaching their first Western Conference Championship in franchise history, the Predators were tasked with taking down the Anaheim Ducks. As if having to stop Ryan Getzlaf while avoiding Corey Perry spears was hard enough, Ryan Kesler was every bit of the pest he’s known to be. While the series wasn’t as physical per say as the Blues series, it was much, much dirtier of a series. The Predators then lost star center Ryan Johansen to injury after losing game four at home. With the series tied 2-2, things looked bleak.

Three constants in life? Death, taxes, and the Predators advancing past the Ducks.

Tonight comes the Predators’ reward for making it this far: playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. That being said, the Predators aren’t here to play. They’re here to win. Thus, even though they are rewarded with playing in this final series, they have yet to be rewarded with their goal: the Stanley Cup.

The Pittsburgh Penguins

Over the last week, us writers here at OnTheForecheck have previewed this series extensively. Here are all the hits:

A Quick Glance at Predators vs. Penguins In the Stanley Cup Final

Nashville vs. Pittsburgh, or the Final Test of Fancy Stats

Predators vs. Penguins Preview: A Look At Pittsburgh’s Forwards

Predators vs. Penguins Preview: A Look At Pittsburgh’s Defense and Goaltending

Predators v. Penguins Preview: Special Teams

Predators vs. Penguins Preview: 7 Questions With Pensburgh

Nashville’s Toughest Test Yet Will Force Them to Adjust

The Penguins should be getting a boost to their forward corps tonight, as former Predator Patrick Hornqvist returns to the lineup. Although he did not practice in the Penguins’ optional skate today, neither did Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and many others.

Moreover, it appears as if Pittsburgh may be close to getting a few more players back from injury sooner rather than later.

Nonetheless, Peter Laviolette may be finding out the Penguin lines later than he would like.

The Nashville Predators

While a lot of key skaters skipped the Penguins’ optional skate, the Predators’ practice this morning was widely attended.

These were the lines from yesterday:

A hearty congratulations is due to Gaudreau, who apparently has earned Laviolette’s trust and looks to take Cody McLeod’s spot on the fourth line. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that Gaudreau is taking a spot away from Salomaki on what normally is a checking line. It’s interesting seeing Gaudreau on a checking line, especially since he and Fiddler do not seem to be complimentary players.

Reasons to Watch

  • Really, guys? It’s the Stanley Cup Finals, and your Predators are in it.

Sights and Sounds

The puck drops in Pittsburgh at 7:00ct. The game will be televised nationally through NBC. Otherwise, you can catch the Predators on the radio at 102.5.