On Friday afternoon, the Nashville Predators released that Ryan Johansen suffered an upper thigh injury during the Game Four loss at Bridgestone Arena. Johansen required surgery and will be out the remainder of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs with a 2-3 month recovery from his injuries. The Predators have two options for the rest of this series: fold or compete. This series is now a best of three where Nashville must win at least one game in Anaheim to give themselves the opportunity to move on to play for the Stanley Cup. This team has faced adversity with injuries throughout the year and we saw the pushback after Kevin Fiala’s gruesome injury against St. Louis. The winner of this pivotal Game Five will be one win away from moving on. It would be great to see them get the possibility to clinch in Nashville, but they must win tonight.
This series has not been good for Nashville on the powerplay. In Game Four, the Predators were 0 for 5 with a man-advantage including a late 5-on-3 that went stagnant. The Predators powerplay conversion percentage has dropped to an anemic 14.3% with no sight in getting better. The Predators need to get back to their brand of hockey. Nashville needs a high shot volume with lots of rebound chances to give themselves the opportunity to score. The perfect pass option isn’t working. If the powerplay can improve, Nashville has a great shot of stealing one at the Honda Center tonight.
With the absence of Ryan Johansen, and most likely Mike Fisher, the Predators will depend upon Calle Jarnkrok, Colin Wilson, and Colton Sissons to take a majority of the faceoffs. According to projected lineups from various sources, Jarnkrok will be the top-line center, Colton Sissons on the second line, Colin Wilson centering the third line, and Vernon Fiddler rounding out the centers. Whoever it may be, it will be crucial for them to win 50% of the draws tonight. The Ducks are an excellent team in the circle and love to play the puck possession game. They want to slow the game down to neutralize Nashville’s speed and skill against their larger, less skilled forwards. If this group can win crucial faceoffs, giving more time in the offensive zone, it will be a great sign for winning the game.
The Nashville Predators will have to push through lots of adversity to move one step to moving on to the Stanley Cup Final. Be sure to catch all of the action on NBC or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 6:15 pm!