San Jose/Nashville - Game Five: What To Watch For
How do both teams recover and play a crucial game five after a triple overtime thriller less than 48 hours later? It's going to be a battle of besting fatigue and potential line-up changes for tonight.
After over 170 minutes of hockey on Thursday night going into Friday, coupled with a 2,000 mile flight 12 hours later, fatigue may slowly begin to set in for both teams in this series.
How long can the Predators keep this up? They've accumulated around 14,000 miles of air travel in trips back and forth to the Pacific coast. How in the world can they keep up this torrid pace?
San Jose hasn't had the same experience that Nashville has, traveling to Los Angeles in the first round before meeting up with the Predators.
At some point, one of these two teams may hit a mental wall -- regardless of what the final prize they're playing for. The human body can only take so much.
So, which team will break first? Will we see it tonight during game five? The Predators earned a much-needed mental boost with the 3OT win in game four, but will it be enough to push them through tonight and the rest of the series?
Old and busted? Or new hotness?
Martin Jones definitely isn't "old and busted", but he most certainly has some wear and tear after Nashville found a way to expose him during games three and four.
After allowing four goals in both, and allowing the Predators to tie the series in the process, should the Sharks look at potentially bringing in James Reimer to start game five?
Reimer was 2-1-0 against Nashville this season with both Toronto and San Jose. Historically, Nashville hasn't done well against teams who bring in a back-up goaltender in place of a starter mid-series, either.
While possibly dispelling that myth against Anaheim in the first round, there's always the potential for Reimer entering the game and being lit up by the Predators. However, you have to start questioning whether or not San Jose does something drastic to end its wobbling.
And if they don't tonight, do they do so if they head back to Nashville down three games to two?
The Åberg Factor
What do the Predators do with Pontus Åberg? Should he continue in the line-up with alongside fellow Swedes Viktor Arvidsson and Calle Jarnkrok, or should he be scratched for a more veteran presence?
After playing only 4:59 in game four, there's reason to believe that Mike Ribeiro could find himself back into the lineup for game five.
When asked about Åberg, head coach Peter Laviolette noted that he chose to double-shift veterans and Åberg simply got lost in the rotation -- a situation where it's difficult to re-insert a player back into the line-up during overtime after they've already missed so much time during regulation. That being the case, Ribeiro could become very necessary for tonight if Laviolette continues to feel the same way.
You don't want to go with 11 forwards and six defenseman for nearly five periods of hockey if you don't absolutely have to. While Ribeiro hasn't played great hockey at all this post-season, being scratched for two straight games could have been the kick that he needed to light a fire under his ass for the remainder.
Plus, put him somewhere with lesser responsibilities. Like playing on the wing.
Extract Åberg from the line-up and put Ribeiro in his place, leaving the remainder of the line as-is. It's definitely something we could see tonight and could be a game-changer.