The Predators continue the Western Conference Semifinals in Nashville as they take on the Canucks in game 3 of the best of seven series.
Looking at the Canucks: Vancouver now understands how the Predators made it as far as they’ve made it this season: Pekka Rinne. Rinne absolutely stoned the Canucks cold minus one shorthanded goal Sunday night, including 3-4 glorious chances in overtime to salt away the game. The Canucks know it’s not going to be the goals you would expect to go in to actually go in, but the dirty weird goals that will be the difference makers in this series. Take for example ALL FOUR goals scored in this series: Higgins gets a weird bounce and roofs it over a sprawling Rinne (which had to be reviewed), Burrows gets a deflection off of Weber’s skate and packs it behind Rinne, Suter bounces one in off of Luongo’s stick AND pad, and Halischuk takes a Knucklepuck top-shelf on Luongo. Now, seeing that Burrows is moving back to the Sedin line, you have to wonder how the Canucks plan on getting more pucks past Rinne. If Vancouver can solve the Rinne riddle, they’ll take the series…however they need to do so and do it quickly, as a hostile Bridgestone Arena environment will make it extremely difficult to do so
Looking at the Predators: The Predators earned the split. The one most important item they wanted to return to Nashville with. Instead of NEARLY being down 0-2 in the series, Nashville is now 1-1 and has stolen the home ice advantage, but how will they use it? As mentioned last series against Anaheim, Nashville has never lost a game 3 at home, however their Game 4′s, as of late, have been in question. The Predators have NEVER needed to sweep home ice as much as they have now. In 72 hours, things could either go one of three ways: Nashville can be down 3-1, the series could be tied at 2, Nashville can be up 3-1. Either way, 72 hours will determine the fate of both teams, but the answer to all these questions still rely with Pekka Rinne. If Rinne continues to channel whatever inner angels are carrying him through these playoffs, Nashville may
For the Canucks to win: SOLVE PEKKA RINNE. You won’t be able to beat the Predators unless you can solve Pekka Rinne. Anaheim was able to do it last series with Teemu Selanne, however Vancouver doesn’t really have a Selanne (yes, I know, they have the Sedin twins). Selanne was able to sneak pucks past Rinne usually on the high end of his stout figure, but so far Vancouver has yet to roof many of their chances. The only time they have? Chris Higgins took it to the top of the net and scored the game winner in game 1. Coincidence? I think not. Find the vulnerabilities and exploit them, that’s your only shot.
For the Predators to win: CONVERT YOUR CHANCES. The Predators played a NEAR perfect game Sunday night, but had the most difficult time converting their opportunities on Roberto Luongo. Whatever the case was, Luongo was there to stop it. If Nashville wants to keep winning, they have to get more pucks passed that goal line, meaning they are going to have to finish their chances. The Predators could have easily been up 2-1 or 3-1 in that Game 2, but just couldn’t get that puck to move an extra 3 or 4 feet. Nashville has already received ideal goaltending and penalty killing, but they need more offense, it’s THAT simple.
Prediction: 3-2 Nashville (overtime). Another tight game, but Nashville is going to find a way to keep their Game 3 home record streak intact and take their first home overtime playoff win.
BEST OF SEVEN Record: 1-1, Tie Series
OTHER GAMES OF INTEREST:
#1 Washington @ #5 Tampa Bay: TBL leads best of seven series 2-0
Thanks for reading!