After a beneficial two days off, the Nashville Predators are set to take on the Dallas Stars in Nashville on Saturday, at Bridgestone Arena. Puck drop is set for 5:00 PM CT, with the game being televised on CNBC. It’s still very early in the series, but this game to be an early match-up that will prove to be pivotal for the Preds going forward.
Game 1 started pretty well for this group all things considered. They dominated the first period of play and held the edge in almost every category: face-offs, shots on goal, and even power plays. After the 1st period came to a close; however, it all came unraveled. They found themselves back on their heels and struggled mightily to find the puck..and the net. Every single power play the Predators had, was killed by the Stars defense. Then when the Stars were attacking, the defense got worked by screens…and BAD.
So what do the Preds need to do ensure they don’t solidify their downward spiral in Game 2? Well, if we’re being honest, it’s really not too different from what they needed to do the last time these two met.
Here are my three keys to getting a Preds win:
1. Power Plays
When I wrote about the first meeting between these two, I mentioned that I’d have a hard time seeing the Preds win if PPG = 0 when time expired. That was the case on Wednesday, and we know how that ended. This team tends to lack speed when attacking, but they also struggle to take advantage of favorable match-ups when they present themselves. All of that culminates and has a consequence of getting less shots on goal — thus, less opportunities to get in the net.
Here’s what Craig Smith had to say after Game 1 regarding the teams Power Play blunders:
Just like on Wednesday, if the Preds don’t take advantage and attack when the chance is there, they won’t win this game. Both teams are great defensively; so whoever wins in this category, wins this game.
2. Attack! Attack! Attack!
The Predators need to be the aggressors in this game. Consistently too. They did well attacking and getting the Stars backed in a corner during the first period of Game 1, but they weren’t able to keep applying the pressure. This team needs to play fast, and play nasty — that’s when this team is at their best. If they can stay aggressive and keep attacking the net, they’ll be able keep the Stars defenders on their heels rather than having it the other way around. They’ve already got the crowd behind them again before traveling to Dallas, which means that they’ll always have an “extra attacker” on the ice, so they really need to keep this crowd juiced up and rowdy. Only way to to do that? Attack! Attack! Attack!
3. Use A Screen, Don’t Get Beat By It
The Dallas Stars did an excellent job creating a screen in from of Pekka Rinne. It is known.. (Game of Thrones reference?) Overall, he played a pretty good game — especially when you consider that he really had zero help from his guys. The Stars were aggressive near the net, and create a ton of traffic in front of Rinne, and it was just too much traffic for him to overcome. He’ll never be the sort of teammate to point fingers though, and he understands it’s more important to move ahead without looking back.
Here’s a look at Rinne discussing what the team needs to do to bounce back:
Now, flip the script — the Predators should really try and take note of how they were victimized last meeting. The Preds need to create a screen in front of Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop and make it as difficult as possible to locate the puck and see shots. Bishop didn’t really have any issues blocking shots taken by the Preds, and why wouldn’t he? He could see the puck coming from a mile away. Create a wall, keep the puck moving, and confuse him.
I was right about just about everything but the final score. Only the single most important outcome, right? Well, I’m taking another stab at it. I am saying that the Predators escape with a win, 3-1.