Keys to Watch
After two intense games in Winnipeg, the series moves back to Nashville for Game Five. The Predators were able to find their defensive game in Game Four and looked like the team we have seen all season. Nashville has now won back home-ice advantage, with Game Five and, if needed, Game Seven at Bridgestone Arena. The crowd will need to play a significant role in the remaining part of the series. Nashville has shown that they can win in Winnipeg, so protecting the home-ice will create a possible clinch in Winnipeg on Monday night. First things first: WIN TONIGHT.
Bring the Grit
Going into Game Four, Peter Laviolette made a bold move in sitting Kevin Fiala for Scott Hartnell. In the first three games of the series, Nashville lacked a physical, gritty aspect to their game. Hartnell was able to neutralize Dustin Byfuglien with physical play and not giving him a moment to breathe. Scott Hartnell led the Predators in hits and had a modest 11:46 time-on-ice. Based upon the projected lineup for tonight’s matchup, it seems as though Fiala will return and Hartnell will sit. Someone will need to match the play that Hartnell was able to create in Game Four.
From what we have learned in this series, both teams have the ability to adjust to the style of play that the game creates. The Nashville Predators found a formula in Game Four that works. The formula is quite simple: strong in front of the net, great goaltending, and timely scoring. Nashville was able to get remarkable play from the defensive corps, especially PK Subban. Pekka Rinne was what the Predators needed in net stopping 32 of 33 shots. Nashville had more hits, blocks, and takeaways than the Jets. The Preds need to replicate the style of play that we witnessed in Game Four.
The Predators will look to move one step closer in moving on to the Western Conference Final for the second year in a row. First, take care of business in front of a sold-out Bridgestone Arena. Be sure to catch all of the action on NBCSN or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 8:30 pm!