Play like you’re running out of time: That’s the mantra for the Nashville Predators tonight.
The Preds host the Carolina Hurricanes for Game 6 of their first-round series. The Hurricanes are one win away from moving onto round two, thanks to Tuesday night’s 3-2 overtime win in Raleigh.
Let’s get to the main things to watch.
History Has Its Eyes on The Preds
There’s usually no better place to play a game with your back against the wall than your home confines. When your home confines happen to be Bridgestone Arena, one of the toughest places to play in the league (especially with the current attendance numbers), you’d think the Predators would have a natural boost in this game.
But when push comes to shove, the building hasn’t exactly been a haven to the Predators throughout the years.
Nashville has played 11 games all-time at Bridgestone Arena when facing elimination, and are just 3-8 in those games. The last such game came in 2018, when the Jets sent the Preds packing after a 5-1 Game 7.
'15 R1 Game 5: W 5-2 (CHI)— Nick Morgan (@_nsmorgan) May 26, 2021
'16 R1 Game 6: W 3-1 (ANA)
'16 R2 Game 6: W 4-3 OT (SJ)
'17 SCF Game 6: L 2-0 (PIT
'18 R2 Game 7: L 5-1 (WPG)
Those troubles aren’t confined to Bridgestone Arena either. Nashville is just 5-13 when facing elimination all-time (in any building). They’ve also never won a playoff series after losing Game 1, or when they went down 2-1.
But while history hasn’t been kind to the Preds, remember, they write their own deliverance here. This is a team that has defied odds for most of the season, including this playoff series that’s surpassed most people’s predicted length.
If there was ever a team to turn the world upside down, it’s this year’s Nashville Predators.
The Officiating Storyline is Non-Stop
Look, fans will never be satisfied with officiating, ever. It’s just one aspect of sports that’s going to be inherent with the fanbase. Fans are going to boo like hell when there’s a 50/50 call that goes the other way. It’s a thing. And if you don’t know, now you know.
But it’s become a storyline in this series because people involved with the teams are MAKING it a storyline.
Every single call in this series has been under mad scrutiny since Rod Brind’Amour’s comments after Game 2, and the spotlight has only brightened since then. In Game 5, we saw two questionable penalties on Nashville precede Hurricanes goals—including the game winner—as well as a disallowed goal that the Carolina social media team (for some reason) couldn’t look past even after a dramatic win.
I’m not going to carry on being a disciplined dissident about officiating, but there is a lesson the Predators can take away from this. You have no clue how the refs are going to call this game, so don’t do anything obvious the get their whistles out. Discipline is key. And I’m not just talking about the gimmes, the cross checks or punches after the whistles with the intent on making Carolina’s red sweaters redder with bloodstains. Impede a Hurricane without holding or hooking. Be wary of high sticks when you’re trying that “lift” move. Get positioning before a poke-check attempt so you avoid tripping.
If the Preds wind up losing this series, let it be because they were out-gunned, not out-manned.
Seize The Moment and Stay In It
You want to know how to use that home crowd to your advantage? Easy. Give them something to cheer for right off the bat!
In the Predators’ two home wins this series, they’ve been ready for the moment of adrenaline, scoring within the first five minutes of the game. Even when the Hurricanes battled back, that early rush kept the Smashville crowd locked in throughout the game.
Scoring first would provide an obvious spark, but more important for the Preds is just to PLAY well from the get-go. It’s easy to get off to a hot start, only to yield momentum to the rest of the period. The first period needs to be the best the scrappy, hungry Predators have played so far in this series.
How To Watch
- Puck Drop: 8:30 PM CST
- TV: NBCSN (National), Bally Sports (Regional)
- Radio: 102.5 The Game