Analysis: What went wrong?
The Nashville Predators entered a raucous building on Monday night and got exposed with their consistently slow start to games during this series. After being down 4-0, Peter Laviolette pulled Pekka Rinne for Juuse Saros to give Nashville a boost. Saros came in and played exceptional, as he has done all year. The defense played well in front of the net and Saros was able to get some big stops, but the offense wasn’t enough to pull Nashville out of the hole as the Avalanche defeated the Predators in Game 3 by a score of 5-3.
Tonight, the Predators cannot have another slow start. The Avalanche were the better team, by far, during the first period of Game 3. This was the first time all season that Colorado was able to defeat the Preds. No need to fret, Smashville. This is the Presidents’ Trophy winning team. They need to have a better showing in the first. Be prepared to see a hungry, desperate Nashville squad that will be looking for retribution after their putrid showing in Monday’s contest.
Shaking Things Up
The Nashville Predators held a full practice yesterday to knock out some of the sluggish play from Game 3. There could be some changes tonight that could affect the lineup, but also some possible changes that are projected. Tonight, you could see the return of Calle Jarnkrok. Jarnkrok has been out for an extended period of time and listed as day-to-day due to an upper-body injury. The offense has been playing well, so Laviolette doesn’t want to rock the boat, but his return could jumpstart scoring in the bottom pairings. But, there could be a push to get some more grit and I could see substituting Miikka Salomaki out of the lineup for Scott Hartnell. Hartnell has playoff experience and would bring a physical aspect against the speedy Avs first line.
Leaders Must Lead
Tonight is a pivotal game in this series. A win tonight for Nashville will put them up 3-1 and require Colorado to win the remaining games in the series including two of the three in Bridgestone Arena. If Colorado wins tonight, all bets are off. The momentum of the series will have shifted and expect this series to go the distance. If there ever was, the Nashville Predators need to win tonight. Colorado is a young, talented squad that has the ability to do exceptional things. The leaders of the team must step up. Rinne has to play like the Vezina worthy player. The defense has to stop the talented, offensive-minded forwards of Colorado. The JOFA line must score, preferably, early in the contest. It is time to put this series out of reach and a win tonight would be huge for Nashville.
The Nashville Predators will re-enter an atmosphere that is loud and comparable to Smashville. The Predators will need a fast start. They can not get behind or the results could be similar to Game 3. Be sure to catch all of the action on Fox Sports-Tennessee, NBCSN, or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 9:00 pm!