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Nashville Predators @ Colorado Avalanche Game 4 Preview: Picture to Burn

The Predators played a horrific game 3 on Monday night. Here’s hoping they burn that out of their memory.

Nashville Predators v Colorado Avalanche - Game Three Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Nashville Predators entered the Pepsi Center in Denver up 2-0 over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, but they left 2-1 with their tail tied between their legs as they were once again thoroughly outplayed by the Colorado Avalanche. Conceding the first goal for the third time in three games, the Predators dug themselves into a hole they could not climb out of, being down 4-0 at one point to eventually lose 5-3. Despite the scoreline, this looked like a game the Predators were never really in.

The Colorado Avalanche

Perhaps the good news for the Predators is that the Avalanche seem to be hitting their highest gear available and they’re still up 2-1. However, the Avalanche appear to have perfected a game plan to deploy against the Predators and, accordingly, the Avalanche has been the better team for six of the nine periods played thus far.

Taking full advantage of the home-ice last-change, the Avalanche have set Nathan MacKinnon’s line to wreak havoc on the esteemed “JOFA” line of the Nashville Predators, as Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and Viktor Arvidsson have been more than neutralized by MacKinnon and company. A tip of the cap to Colorado Head Coach Jared Bednar for taking the JOFA line relatively out of the series thus far, save for Filip Forsberg’s performance in game 1.

However, that seems ages ago, as the Colorado top line has been dominant. Moreover, their fourth line has had the pick of the litter against Nashville, with former Predator Gabriel Bourque coming in clutch numerous times as that final line has picked up key goals. They say the playoffs are all about depth, so the fact that Gabriel Bourque and Austin Watson have been key players reinforce that notion.

The Nashville Predators

There is not much more to say: the Predators have been awful this series and are lucky to be up 2-1. Mike Fisher and Miika Salomaki have not played up to levels expected of them, with a key blunder by Fisher along the neutral zone boards leading directly to an Avalanche goal on Monday night.

In general, the defense has been atrocious. Alexei Emelin continues to be a pylon who occasionally hits things and makes the third pairing a liability any time they take the ice.

Where is Emelin? Oh...
hockeyviz.com

Emelin has been a liability any time he has been on the ice this series. The rest of the defense has not been stellar either but, if there’s one person that a finger can clearly be pointed at for their performance this series, it’s Emelin.

Pekka Rinne has played out of his mind this series considering how little help he has received from his defensive corps. From numerous odd-man rushes to Nathan MacKinnon breakaways, he has been left out to dry like a smoked ham. The offense has been fine but often times, when the defense has jumped into the play, nobody has dropped back to cover, leading to all of these odd-man rushes that have been killing the Predators.

As of Tuesday’s skate, there have been no line changes, but Calle Jarnkrok was back in full-contact. Let’s hope that his return is near.

Not to be all doom and gloom, the Predators are still up 2-1 in this series despite not playing their best hockey. They still will not have the last change tonight in Colorado but, as anyone who has watched this team all season knows, they have another gear in them. The Predators simply need to find it.

Reasons to Watch

  1. Playoff hockey, duh.
  2. How do the Predators respond to a 5-3 loss that felt like a 7-2 loss?
  3. If the Predators get angry about how poor they were on Monday, there’s going to be some pretty darn entertaining hockey tonight.

What to Eat

I may live in Columbus, but I call upon the citizens of Smashville to all have some hot chicken tonight as we all sacrifice our tongues to the hockey gods. Maybe if we light a fire under our taste buds, the Predators will light a fire under their skates. I’ve got my seasoning ready to roar.

Sights and Sounds

It is another late 9:00pm central time start in Colorado but, if I live in eastern time and am staying up for it, you can too. The game will be televised on NBCSN and FS-TN, or you can catch the radio broadcast at 102.5 The Game.