Well, here we are… game three. The Predators and Stars played a great one Saturday evening with the Predators pulling one out in overtime. The tension in Bridgestone Arena was thick as the game progressed and the Predator’s playoff fate was hanging by one single shot… and that shot came from Craig Smith. The series could turn on that shot… but that is yet to be determined.
Tonight, in Dallas, it’s game three… the pivot point for almost any series. It’s an old saw that whoever wins game three in a 1-1 situation normally wins the series and if Nashville is to defy franchise history and win a series after losing game one… I think they could use this kind of stat in their favor.
Expect the same kind of defensive struggle, the same kind of goalie battle that we saw in game two. Two excellent defensive teams playing to their strengths. I have to give credit to the defense, since the return of Dan Hamhuis, the addition of Dante Fabbro and the improved play from Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and PJ Subban… well they have looked like the defensive team we have come to know and love. Mattias Ekholm had a difficult game on Saturday, but I expect him to be back to his normal self tonight.
Give Pekka Rinne and Ben Bishop credit… they have both been as good as advertised with very few missteps and few goals given up. This series will go to the team that can manufacture the most scoring chances… and so far, that team has been the Nashville Predators. But now the series shifts to Texas and the American Airlines Center… and the powerless Nashville power play is ay 0-7 and counting.
Now Dallas hasn’t converted much better… then went 0-6 on Saturday night and only have power play goal in the series.
Most every series turns on an unexpected play or player… and Rocco Grimaldi’s goal on Saturday night lit Bridgestone Arena… the tiny speedster has been a revelation this season and made a real case to remain in the lineup for tonight. Brian Boyle (who missed Saturday’s game with an undisclosed illness) and Wayne Simmonds, who took a puck to the knee Saturday that drove him from the game in the second period are both now listed as “week-to-week.”
The Predators have been every bit as good on the road this year… sometimes better then within the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena… they know they need at least one in Dallas to win this series so why not tonight?
Game time is 8:30pm central (UGH!)
The Playoff Status
The Eastern Conference
(1) Tampa Bay vs (WC2) Columbus – CBJ Leads 3-0 – Game 4, tomorrow
(2) Boston vs. (3) Toronto – Series tied 1-1 – Game 3, tonight
(1) Washington vs. (WC1) Carolina – WSH leads 2-0 – Game 3, tonight
(2) NY Islanders vs (3) Pittsburgh – NYI leads 3-0 – Game 4 - tomorrow
The Western Conference
(1) Calgary vs (WC2) Colorado – Series tied 1-1 – Game 3 – tonight
(2) San Jose vs (3) Vegas – VGK leads 2-1 – Game 4 – tomorrow
(1) Nashville vs. (WC1) Dallas – Series tied 1-1 – Game 3 - tonight
(2) Winnipeg vs. (3) St. Louis – STL leads 2-1 – Game 2 – tomorrow
- Milwaukee Update – The Ad’s finished the regular season 2nd in the AHL’s Central Division. Their best-of-5 playoff series with Iowa drops the puck on Sunday and Tuesday in Iowa and then comes home to UW-Panther Arena for games three and four next Thursday and Friday.
- Tolvanen – IN Milwaukee’s win in the regular season finale, Eeli Tolvanen scored a simply sick goal. Let’s get him some AHL playoff expedrience, but the kid has been coming on in the final weeks of the AHL season.
- Depth – With Brian Boyle and Wayne Simmonds being classified as “week-to-week” expect to see Miikka Salomaki in the lineup tonight along with Grimaldi.
- Coaching Shuffle – Tongues are wagging that NYI (and former Predators) assistant coach Lane Lambert may be in the mix for several head coach roles.
- 0-3 Holes – If you would have told me that Pittsburgh would be down 0-3 to the Islanders before the playoffs, I would’ve said… yeah, I can see it… if you would have told me that Tampa would be in the same 0-3 hole… to freakin’ Columbus??? Wow… just wow.
- Team USA! – Congrats to the ladies as Team USA won gold in the women’s world championships. A very controversial ending though and Finland has a right to be upset…
- Hearings – The Leaf’s Nazim Kadri is getting a hearing to day on a stupid in in Game 2 of the Leafs/Bruins series and Joe Thorton is getting one too for his hit in last night’s Sharks/Knights game.
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