San Jose/Nashville - Game Two: What To Watch For
For 40 minutes, the Predators did a great job of containing San Jose and pressing the attack in the offensive zone. That's when things fell apart. Nashville has a chance to tie the series up coming back home, but can they?
Staying out of the box
One of the biggest concerns coming into game one on Friday night was if Nashville would find itself in penalty trouble, much like the series against Anaheim, and how would they overcome it? Would the Sharks be able to capitalize on said penalties if they were to occur?
The Predators certainly aren't going to be perfect all game and not take a penalty. Of the three penalties that Nashville did take, two of them resulted in power play goals for San Jose.
Add in two empty-net goals while trying to fight back and you have a final score of 5-2 for the Sharks.
Nashville did a fantastic job of bottling up the Ducks and their top-ranked power play during the first round, however I'm not sure they will have the same success against San Jose in the second -- especially after watching game one.
Staying out of the box is a must for the Predators if they want to head back to Nashville with the series tied.
Exhaustion an issue?
Tonight will mark the ninth game Nashville has played in the past 17 days. That's a lot of games to play with only one day of rest in-between each.
Leading 1-0 after two periods of play on Friday night, the Predators seemingly appeared listless in the third period. San Jose tied it up early, Joel Ward beat Pekka Rinne on a goal that was very reminiscent of what he did to the Dallas Stars a few years back and shut down Nashville from there.
Including tonight's game, the Predators have played six of their nine playoff games on the road and have traveled over 10,000 miles in the process.
That's enough to wear any battle-hardened team down.
It won't get any easier for Nashville as the playoffs progress, either.
Yes, Nashville has plenty of offensive talent on its top six, but it's clear that Craig Smith's absence has caused a notable hole in the line-up. When Smith's in the line-up, Nashville is 4-0. When he's out? 0-4.
The biggest question mark, though, is how the Predators have replaced him. It didn't work out so well in the three straight losses to Anaheim. Curiously, head coach Peter Laviolette activated Eric Nystrom into the line-up for game one.
That didn't work out so well, either. Nystrom played a team-low 9:22 and took one of Nashville's three penalties.
With Pontus Aberg recalled, who scored 25 goals in the AHL for Milwaukee this season, and Austin Watson waiting in the wings, Laviolette may have to do a bit better in balancing his lines by putting in Nystrom to replace Smith.
Nystrom isn't a top-six forward. If Smith remains sidelined with his lower-body injury again for game two, a different forward will have to be boosted into the line-up for balance.