It’s playoff time!
The Nashville Predators will engage in the First round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs starting tonight. Their opponent is one of the most hated rivals inside of Bridgestone Arena, the Chicago Blackhawks.
Regular season records do not matter. Player scoring during the 82-game grind has no bearing anymore. How well a team has played, up until this point, will be declared null-and-void. Why you ask? BECAUSE IT’S THE PLAYOFFS!
Between these two clubs during the 2014-15 season, the Blackhawks have the upper-hand with an OT win on 10/18, 3-1 win on 12/6, and a SO win on 12/29. The lone Nashville victory came on 10/23.
This will be the second time in franchise history that the Predators and Blackhawks will meet for the chance to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup. The first time was in 2010, also a Western Conference Quarterfinals matchup. The Preds went on to lose that series in six games, winning games one and three. The Blackhawks would go on to win the Cup.
Surprisingly, the 2010 Quarterfinals was the last time the Preds lost a series in the first round. With wins against Anaheim in 2011 and Detroit in 2012, Nashville looks to continue their first round success over the last two playoff series.
Keys to Watch
The Epitome of a Rivalry
Of all of the playoff series starting tonight, Nashville vs Chicago has the makings of a powder-keg of emotion. This rivalry will have physical play, scoring, and outstanding goalies. The hatred between these two teams, and their fan base is well documented. Expect emotions to be high, and we aren’t talking about just on the ice!
Rinne vs Crawford
It is no secret that the winner of a playoff series has to get outstanding production from their goaltender. This series will be no different. Pekka Rinne and Corey Crawford will have to carry their teams on their backs, if they intend on winning the series. Rinne has the edge in wins this season (41 to 32) and GAA (2.18 to 2.27). Crawford has a slight edge in SV % (.924 to .923). This series hinges on the play of these perspective goalies. If one fails, their team fails.
Kane back for game 1
Patrick Kane will make his return after a seven week absence tonight during game 1. Kane had surgery to replace a fractured left collarbone on February 25th. The initial outlook on Kane was that he would be out for a minimum of 12 weeks, but he has been cleared to play tonight. When he left, Kane was tied for the NHL scoring lead. He is a very dangerous player that is dynamic with and without the puck. Nashville has to challenge Kane every time he is on the ice. Physical play will be the key to stopping Kane. If you allow him time-in-space, he will make you pay.
The Nashville Predators will look to take advantage in the series with a win tonight and start the series on the right foot. The game will be carried on FOX Sports Tennessee, NBCSN or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game!
LET’S TAKE GAME ONE!