Wednesday night at 8:30 PM CST, the puck will hit the ice in Bridgestone Arena for a Round 1, Game 1 match-up between the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars. Both teams beginning their treacherous journey with hopes to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
So what do the Preds need to do in order to take a 1-0 lead over the Stars? It all starts with how well this team plays defensively. Cue: Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros, stage left.
I cannot stress the importance of bend but don’t break. The Stars are not a group that score a lot of goals, but neither do the Preds. The opportunity will be there for the Stars and Tyler Seguin/Alexander Radulov to get some shots on goal — that’s why it’s so critical to lock down the net. Likewise, the Preds will have ample opportunity themselves and should have more shots on goal than I’d expect out of the Stars — but it all comes down to the aforementioned ability to ‘bend but don’t break’. We’ll see who breaks first.
Did you guess this was coming? Yeah, you probably did. This has arguably been the biggest Achilles heel for this Predators team. Well, that and consistency at times…but, that’s for another time and place. Back to the power play… The Predators HAVE to take advantage of their power play opportunities, they have to. If they can’t take advantage of these opportunities and PPG = 0 when the clock hits 00:00 in the 3rd period, I struggle seeing them winning this game…and if they don’t get hot in this area, I don’t see them taking this series.
Call me a homer, but I am going to say the Predators get it done tonight in front of a pumped up, and very LOUD Bridgestone Arena crowd. I think the game stays knotted at 1-1 before the Preds break it with a PPG, making it a 2-1 final. Preds take a 1-0 series lead, as well as the momentum going into Game 2.
We reached out to Steve, who is an avid Predators fan and season ticket holder to get his opinion on the series match-up:
“My Opinion is an unpopular one.. I think the series is a toss up, with the Preds winning in 7. Dallas doesn’t score much but neither do we. It’s a defensive series and goaltending is going to be huge. The Preds power play could be a determine factor, and if it doesn’t heat up it could spell disaster for the Preds. However, after the season they’ve had with injuries it’s a dream matchup to play Dallas in the first round with St Louis and WPG bearing each other up in the first round for a potential 2nd round matchup.”
Steve is leaning towards a drawn out 7 game defensive battle between the two teams. I’m not sure it’ll go a full 7, but I think we can agree the more hockey, the better. He also makes a very valid point — I think most Preds fans are perfectly fine with leting the Blues and Jets beat the hell out of each other before a potential Round 2 clash.
I guess we’ll find out tonight. Be sure to tune in at 8:30 PM CT for puck drop — pregame festivities begin at 5:30 PM CT and doors open at 6:30 PM CT.