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Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars Game 3 Preview: A Chess Match

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These games are defensive in nature and prematurely aging me.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for Game 3 of the Predators-Stars series.

Nashville Predators

Rocco Grimaldi and Craig Smith were the heroes in Game 2. Grimaldi became an instant x-factor in the series by providing speed and hustle in a Viktor Arvidsson-like manner.

Pekka Rinne has had to be a brick wall against Dallas’s speedy youngsters. He made 22 saves on 23 shots, although it felt like he made about 50 more saves.

We’ll be looking for more from Smith tonight, but it would be even better if his line could finally convert on some of the chances they’ve been afforded on Ben Bishop. I feel like we’ve been waiting for Mikael Granlund to get going...could tonight be the night?

The Predators MUST control their emotions and remain disciplined in tonight’s game. Dallas was 0-for-6 on the power play in Game 2, but continuing to take dumb penalties is just a gamble. Dallas scored on one of their power plays in Game 1.

Dallas Stars

Dallas converted on a backdoor tap-in from Jamie Benn in Game 2, but they were otherwise unable to find a way past Pekka Rinne.

Dallas’s defensive trap was a little less effective in Game 2 thanks to some speed from hard chargers like Rocco Grimaldi and Viktor Arvidsson. Will they make adjustments to their lineup tonight?

Mattias Janmark sustained a nasty-looking injury to his foot or ankle when he went into the boards awkwardly with Dan Hamhuis. He played some additional shifts, but not many. Will Dallas slot in someone like Jason Spezza instead?

Big Ben Bishop made 40 saves on 42 Predators shots. He has played two excellent contests, and the Predators will have to do much more to get pucks past him.

Keep Your Eye on This Guy

Tonight, I’m keeping my eye on Calle Jarnkrok. He’s played a steady two games on the fourth line, providing speed while lined up with Brian Boyle and Wayne Simmonds. After Simmonds’ apparent injury in Game 2, Järnkrok saw some time with Smith and Grimaldi. Good things can happen with Grimaldi and Järnkrok on the ice at the same time.

Tonight’s Theme Song

“Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” by Big and Rich.

[Ed.: I don't know about bringing Big and Rich back to Preds gamedays, Rachel...]

Tonight’s Drink of Choice

Aside from coffee, I know I’ll need something to calm my nerves. I’ll be sipping on some River Blush wine from Grinder’s Switch Winery in Centerville, TN.

How to Watch

It’s another late one, folks. Get your coffee fix in. Puck drop will be at 8:30 Central. NBC Sports and Fox Sports-TN will have the TV broadcasts, and 102.5 The Game has the radio call.