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Western Conference Quarter Finals: Game 4 – Nashville @ Detroit


Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Much has been said after Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarter Final about how Nashville has yet to play a full 60 minutes of hockey. In a small way this might be true, but let’s not take anything away from Detroit for their solid game and a full-on assault in the last 30 minutes of the game (especially the third period) where Nashville fans held their collective breaths for the last 3 minutes. Can Nashville play a full 60 minutes? Will Detroit counter-punch like they did in Game 2?

Find out tonight at 6:30 P.M. Central on SportSouth with Pete and Terry and NBC Sports Channel. 102.5 the Game will cover the airwaves in and around Nashville with Willy Daunic and Stu Grimson.

Detroit’s favorite Predator, Shea Weber answered the boo-birds with a power play tally in the first and Klein went coast-to-coast on what has been described as a Bobby Orr-type of play to make it 2-0 in the second. Pavel Datsyuk would continue in his Selke-winning ways by pick-pocketing a unsuspecting Roman Josi to tuck home the goal to make it 2-1. A late flurry of shots with one coming .01 seconds after time expired kept the game at 2-1 going into the third. The third period would be totally Detroit’s except for the one decent offensive chance the Predators mustered where Kostitsyn broke out with 2 other Predators and sniped home a shot under the arm of Howard to make it 3-1. Zetterberg would close the gap on the power play with Howard pulled with just under a minute, but the Predators would get a few timely clears to take the game and the series lead.

The Keys for Detroit: Even though the Predators have only converted on ONE of their numerous power play chances, Detroit has to maintain some kind of composure to steal some momentum and offensive zone presence from Nashville. So far the superstars on Detroit are coming through with the scores and stops. Nashville’s first two lines have been effectively throttled.

Detroit is going to put up an obscene amount of shots and although Rinne seems to thrive with more rubber coming his way, Detroit has to find a way to take his eyes off the puck and screen him. Holmstrom is an expert at this, but Bertuzzi and to an extent Abdelkader could do a better job in front of the net. Babcock has coached the Detroit Red Wings well with the transition game and not many teams can swing the momentum on the fly quite like the Red Army. If Detroit can tire out Nashville and get the smaller defensive pairing of Josi and Ellis (or Hillen/Bouillon) trapped out there with Detroit’s larger forwards, it will cause mismatches that Detroit could capitalize on with a quickness.

The Red Wings are going to come out strong knowing that it might be a swan song in Detroit if they drop this game on their home ice where they have dominated much of the year. Giving Nashville their first road playoff win at the Joe is not something Detroit takes lightly and they will be hungry and aggressive to take the series back to Nashville tied at 2-2.

The Keys for Nashville: Nashville has been rewarded with two wins so far in this series due to the game-stealing abilities of Pekka Rinne and some rewarded patience on the offensive side of the ice. The Predators hung on for dear life as the Red Wings opened up a shooting gallery on Rinne in the latter half of the second period and all through the third. Just because the Predators have a lead, it is not wise for Trotz to simply play “not to lose” (anyone remember the Chicago series?).

Legwand has 1 point in the last 3 games and 6 PIM (all in Game 3). The Predators need Legwand to step up like he did in last year’s playoffs where he went off against Vancouver with 5 points and only 2 PIM. Having Legwand with an extremely competent center core with the likes of Mike Fisher, Nick Spaling and Paul Gaustad gives Nashville tons of depth with Wilson lurking on the healthy scratch list. Being winged by Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov should only bolster Legwand’s numbers but as of yet this simply isn’t happening. If Legwand can return to the Vancouver series form from last year, the Predators have a legit shot at taking another game at the Joe.

Also, aside from their paltry ice times, it may be time for Yip and Tootoo to ride the pine in favor of an offensive boost for the lower 2 lines. It has been suggested on numerous sites that Trotz needs to throw another wrench into Coach Babcock’s planning and unleash the youthful talents of Colin Wilson and Craig Smith. Both players are strong on the puck and have a nose for the net. Their defensive gaffes have left them watching from the press box, but if Tootoo and Yip’s play as of late isn’t reason enough to give Wilson and Smith a chance, then who knows what else Colin and Craig may have to do to get some much needed ice time and give the Predators a speedy offensive spark with either Gaustad or Spaling as their pivotmen.


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