For the first time in the history of the Nashville Predators franchise, they have made it to the Stanley Cup Final. This has been an amazing roller coaster that will end in the highest of highs or the lowest of lows. It is amazing to see this franchise and their success which has been up and down over the past season. Yet, it is important to focus on making the best of this experience and bringing home the Stanley Cup to Nashville. The Predators will be trying to unseat the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens were able to defeat the Ottawa Senators in two overtimes of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final. Over the span of this postseason, the Pens have played three more games than Nashville including their recent series-ending contest. Game One will be a tone-setting beginning to the series to see if the Preds will use their size, their speed, or a mixture of the two. Also, the week off has been positive for getting healthy and having the possible return of captain, Mike Fisher. It will be important for Nashville to get off to a good start on the road as they have been able to all postseason.
Crosby. Malkin. Kessel. Guentzel. The forwards of the Pittsburgh Penguins are offensively-skilled and dangerous to the ultimate goal for the Nashville Predators. Priority number one will be to slow down this group of forwards. Throughout the playoffs, these four players have 79 points (30 goals, 49 assists) including five game-winning goals. This group has the ability to put up points in droves and the Preds must keep a body on these four players at all time. Physicality will play an extremely significant role in shutting down their time in space. Players such as Austin Watson, Colton Sissons, and James Neal will be significant in this series because of their willingness to throw caution to the wind and use their bodies for slowing down top-line forwards against the opposing team. The Predators have been able to shut down top forwards all postseason and now it is time to do it one more time.
There has been no bigger storyline this postseason for the Predators than the play of Pekka Rinne. Without Rinne, the Predators are not the Western Conference Champions and playing for the Stanley Cup. Rinne is 12-4 this postseason with .941 save-percentage, 1.70 goals-against average, and has allowed 28 goals in 16 contests. The defense in front of Rinne must be at their very best because the Pens have the best offense that the Nashville Predators have faced all postseason. Nashville is only as good as Pekka Rinne plays. If he is on top of his game, the Preds have a fighting chance against the defending champions. A lackluster performance from Rinne could be detrimental to winning the final four games.
The Nashville Predators will take another step forward in bringing the Stanley Cup to the people of Nashville, Tennessee. Be sure to catch all of the action on NBC or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 7:00 pm!