On Friday night, the Nashville Predators suffered their first lost of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs. Eventually, Nashville was going to lose a game. They played an uncharacteristic game from what they’ve played this post-season. So far, they have stayed out of the penalty box, but after receiving a five-minute major for a ridiculous play by Vernon Fiddler, and not playing disciplined, the Preds were due to lay an egg this post-season. Now, it will be the time to see if this version of the Nashville Predators can respond. How do they react if front of the hometown crowd in the face of adversity? If they “keep it clean” and get back to their brand of hockey, the Nashville Predators should go up 2-1 in the series.
Time in Space
As I was agonizingly watching Game Two, one key that was noticed is the fact that many of the Blues players had plenty of time with the puck, especially Vladimir Tarasenko. With two goals in Game Two, the one thing that the Nashville defense can’t have happen is to allow him any opportunity for scoring. Tarasenko is a streaky scorer and can put up lots of goals in a short span. When he is on his game, he’s one of the best in the world. Against Chicago, the Predators defense was suffocating. The Nashville game plan needs to revert back to round one. Take away the top forwards of St. Louis’ ability to move with the puck. Take away their time in space and give the hometown crowd something to cheer about this afternoon at Bridgestone Arena.
Consistency in the Circle
One key component to success in the postseason is the ability to win face-offs. Puck possession comes at a premium during this time of year, and this series is no different. In Game One, the Predators dominated at the dot winning 62% of the draws. On the other hand, Nashville didn’t fare too well on Friday with a 46% success rate. The Preds need a high rate of wins on face-offs in Game Three, especially in their defensive zone. This will be a key statistic to keep an eye on as the game progresses into the third period. If the Preds are doing well inside of the circle, look for the team to play as they are capable of playing.
This afternoon could be the turning point as the series shifts to Nashville. The Predators will be looking to rebound after a sloppy loss in Game Two. Be sure to catch all of the action on NBC or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 2:00 pm!