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Western Conference Quarter Final: Game 5 – Detroit @ Nashville


Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The task is at hand. A first for the Nashville Predators to take a 3-1 lead in a series. All that is left is one more game…

Detroit is going to throw everything they have at Nashville (as if that hasn’t been done all series) and Nashville must find a way to stave off the onslaught and score on the few opportunities the Red Wings give.

Bridgestone will never have been as loud as it will be tonight. Puck drop is at 7 P.M. CBC, CNBC and SportSouth will have the T.V. coverage and 102.5 the Game will have radio coverage.

The Detroit Red Wings constantly put up more shots than any other team in the NHL. Pekka Rinne has lived through this cannon fire in six games during the regular season and the last 4 of the post-season. Rinne stopped 40 of 41 shots from Detroit in Game 4. Jimmy Howard had the misfortune of only stopping 14 of 17. Some say Rinne gets better the more pucks he sees; it seems that may also be true for Howard. Not having a ton of pucks flying his way might have cooled off Howard. Another reason could also be the porous defense.

0-0 through the first two periods and then the Predators would start things off not with Bourque’s goal, but with the one that an “intent to whistle” was waved off. In other playoffs, this one instance may have unraveled the Predators and they would start to play undisciplined hockey. But the Predators stood their ground andsoon after scored on a quick wrister from Gabriel Bourque to make it 1-0.

What Terry Crisp would describe as a “ticky-tack” call was made less than a minute after Bourque scored and Hudler would tip home a Kronwall shot to tie the game on the PP. Then, the unthinkable happened. Martin Erat burst into the zone and commands the attention of three Red Wings and the goalie Howard. With all those players going after Erat, Martin simply centered the puck to an awaiting Kevin Klein for an open net goal. Legwand would add the icing with a chance stab at a passed puck to send it through Howard’s wickets for the 3-1 score.

The Keys for Detroit: At this time of year and especially down 3-1 in the series, the word for the situation is Desperation. Detroit has to get some of their other players going. It can’t be just Zetterberg and Datsyuk leading the charge in scoring. Predator-killer of the year, Valterri Filppula, has been non-existent in the series and legendary defenseman Niklas Lidstrom has also been a non-factor.

Howard is a capable goaltender, but his being way out of position allowed for two of Nashville’s three goals in game 4. With a brick wall in Rinne peering down from the opposite end, Howard has to find that early season magic that propelled him to his first All-Star appearance.

Detroit doesn’t just needs to fire more shots on net, they have to be quality chances with a screen in front. If Rinne can see it, it’s as good as stopped. Traffic in front and shots from the face-off dots down are key to Detroit gaining some momentum and trying to stay alive in this quarter final match-up.

The Keys for Nashville: Play a hard and focused game with the crowd willing them to win. Bridgestone Arena will be deafening and the Gold-clad fans will be salivating to watch the Predators finally bump off the most hated rival Nashville has ever known. The watermark for success has been measured countless times by Detroit and in another season of firsts, it’ll be that much sweeter to overtake a franchise that has seemed to have Nashville’s number in the playoffs every year.

Rinne will need to continue to be…well…Rinne. The more shots he sees, the better he gets and he’ll have plenty of shots coming his way in Game 5. Although it has been said that Hal Gill is a game-time decision, a full practice today may be great news in getting back some size on the blueline and a PK specialist (since the refs have been quite whistle-happy this series). Any and all help to thwart any offense Detroit can muster will be met with high praise and hopefully the offensive force necessary to best the Red Wings.

Just so we’re clear, Gabriel Bourque has 3 goals in this series: more than any other Predator. If Fisher, Erat and Hornqvist can start to find the scoresheet (especially in the goal department) it can only help the chances of Nashville giving the hometown fans exactly what they need to start the weekend and the second round out with a bang.


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