Game Four drops the puck at a reasonable 7:15pm tonight in Dallas, thank heavens… Pred Nation might actually get some sleep! A couple of story lines are showing themselves in this series, and they will have an impact on tonight’s game four.
Best game – We haven’t seen close to Nashville’s best game in this series and yet they still lead it 2-1. They may have taken Dallas’ best punch on Monday night and came away with a win. This Nashville team needs to come out and play aggressive, on your toes hockey. Comments post game and at yesterday’s media availability were consistent, the Predators know they have to be better.
Special teams - Both teams have had a Jekyll and Hyde personality on special teams, the Stars and Predators have been excellent on the penalty kill and “meh” on the power play. Dallas only has one power play goal, Nashville is 0-fer. Whichever teams cracks the power play code will have a decided advantage.
Goaltending – Both goaltenders have been solid, but Pekka Rinne has been better, coming up with the clutch save at the right time and frankly, Ben Bishop has not. In game three, Bishop gave up a couple of softies, goals he should have had and it cost his team.
Experience – You can see how Nashville’s playoff experience is paying off. This Stars team does not have a lot of playoff experience as a team… if you close your eyes, you can hear the quotes from the Stars and imagine the same quotes coming from the Preds in pre-2017 playoff years.
The desperation factor should be dialed up to 11 tonight for both teams. Dallas knows that they cannot go into Bridgestone Arena down 3-1 and feel good about their chances. Nashville knows that they must step their game up in order to take control of this series.
I don’t expect to see many (if any) changes to the either lineup tonight. Wayne Simmonds and Brian Boyle are both still listed as week-to-week, Dallas still lists Martin Hanzal, Stephen Johns and Marc Methot on IR.
It’s a 7pm game time at the AAC tonight. Pregame coverage begins at 6pm on 102.5 the Game, 6:30pm on Fox Sports Tennessee. Game coverage starts at 7 on those media and national coverage is on USA Network.
The Predators do have a watch party at The Cowan at TopGolf hosted by Zack McCann and Deanna Kay, should be a good time!
The Playoff Status
The Eastern Conference
(1) Tampa Bay vs (WC2) Columbus – CBJ Wins 4-0 – Next Up – Winner of BOS/TOR
(2) Boston vs. (3) Toronto – TOR leads 2-1 – Game 4, tonight
(1) Washington vs. (WC1) Carolina – WSH leads 2-1 – Game 4, tomorrow
(2) NY Islanders vs (3) Pittsburgh – NYI Wins 4-0 – Next Up – Winner of WSH/CAR
The Western Conference
(1) Calgary vs (WC2) Colorado – COL leads 2-1 – Game 4 – tonight
(2) San Jose vs (3) Vegas – VGK leads 3-1 – Game 5 – tomorrow
(1) Nashville vs. (WC1) Dallas – NSH leads 2-1 – Game 4 - tonight
(2) Winnipeg vs. (3) St. Louis – Series tied 2-2 – Game 5 – tomorrow
ICYMI - Last night’s SlapShot Radio
- Milwaukee Update – The Ad’s best-of-5 playoff series with Iowa drops the puck on Sunday in Iowa.
- Saturday Start Time – No one knows yet… All three games are in either Central or Eastern time and all three will happen as none of the series can close out before Saturday… and all three games could end in handshake lines. I bet they are waiting on NBC to figure out which game they want to put on the mothership in prime time.
- Depth – 15 different Predators have at least a point in this series.
- Schedule – The Predators will leave Dallas post-game and are scheduled to practice both tomorrow and Friday in preparation for Saturday’s game five.
- Two sweeps – Wow… I am still amazed at both Tampa and Pittsburgh being swept from the playoffs last night. The Bolts were the first to clinch their playoff spot, and the first to go.
- Torts – I’ll say it… I like John Tortorella… and I am very happy for him that his Blue Jackets have finally made the second round. I think both Toronto and Boston should be very nervous with this draw.
- Plan the parade – Toronto Maple Leaf fans are already starting to look ahead to a second round matchup with Columbus. I don’t know if I want any parts of the Jackets right now, but some Toronto media members already seem to have the Leafs in the conference final.
- Watch for it – I said this last night on SlapShot Radio and I believe it… the Penguins getting swept in round one may have the same impact that Nashville sweeping Chicago did on that team… now to see if Jim Rutherford panics in this offseason like Stan Bowman did in 2017.
- Domination – Best stat (besides the sweep) that shows how dominant NYI was of PIT… the Pens led in games for a grand total of 4:51 out of 244:39 minutes of playing time.
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