Preds Talk: Road to the Stanley Cup Finals: Round 1, Game 2: Three Keys To Success

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.

Prediction


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.

Be sure to tune in this evening to catch all the action, and follow along with @TTalkSports and @TennesseeTTSM for more Preds content!


Road To The NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Nashville Predators – Round 1, Game 1

Courtesy of Brooks Bratten @ NHL.com

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.

Tweet is courtesy of @AtoZSports Nashville

Goaltending

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.


Power Play

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.


Prediction

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.

Courtesy of The Nash Collection



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