Preparing for Game 5

B7ZxnupIQAA4eB-.jpg large

Game 5 is upon us, ladies and gents and from here on out, it’s do or die for the Nashville Predators if they intend on hoisting that big silver Cup in the end.

I am not going to go into what the Predators need to do to win tonight (and those two other possible games); no, we know and the players, coaches, and whatnot know, too. It’s just a matter of getting the job done. Scott Darling is not invincible; he truly is all that has stood between the Predators and taking Round One. Chicago should be kissing his feet right about now because, without him, they’d be facing a quick exit out of the playoffs themselves.

Here’s what’s been happening since Tuesday/Wednesday’s Game 4:

  • Yesterday afternoon, the Predators recalled nine players from Milwaukee. No need to panic, everyone; this is not regular season so there is an unlimited amount of players you can have on a roster. Some may see some ice time, but really, they are just here for emergencies and/or experience. The players chosen? Joe Piskula, Rich Clune, Marek Mazanec, Magnus Hellberg, Anthony Bitetto, Johan Alm, Colton Sissons, Austin Watson, and Viktor Arvidsson.
  • No surprise, the Blackhawks have chosen to go with Scott Darling as their starter for tonight’s game.
  • No need to panic – Kris Martel quickly reported that Wilson did show up to the locker room looking fine.

  • Speaking of those participating in practice…

    Though Fisher was a game time decision Tuesday (and didn’t play), knowing that he’s back out there again is a good sign. Also, long time no see, Eric Nystrom! Though I am doubtful of his magical return for tonight’s game, his presence brings hope.

  • Anaheim becomes the first team to advance to the second round, sweeping the Winnipeg Jets. However, Jets fans stood tall with the sinking ship, giving their team an affable standing ovation for a tremendous season.

  • The Ottawa Senators live to see another day game, shutting down the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 last night.

I have been on edge all day so far and I hope you have been, too. The love for hockey is crazy like that, I guess. It’s going to be deafening in the Bridgestone Arena tonight; I hope you got your tickets. To say this game is huge for either team is an insane understatement.

Go Preds.

 

The Morning After/Of: Game 4

colin

Source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

 

I’d be lying if I said I stayed awake for all three overtime bouts last night. The combination of my love to sleep and the whole “work” factor sent me snoozing in the intermission between the first and second overtime. In what was now the longest game played in Preds franchise history, it is disheartening to know that they came out with the loss. Unfortunately, this is more than a loss; it gave Chicago the 3-1 lead in the series, meaning it could all come to an abrupt end tomorrow night for Nashville. Eek.

This has been certainly a series about the goaltenders. Pekka Rinne, though a little rusty here and there, was carrying the team on his back last night. He kept the Predators in the game. The same can be said for Chicago’s Scott Darling. Neither Nashville or Chicago is doing exceptionally well in the offense/defense department. I mean, both are taking it to the net, but the majority of these bouts have come down to which goaltender is going to slip up first. Unfortunately for Nashville, it has been Rinne.

Colin Wilson has been the playoff superstar thus far, notching his fourth goal of the playoffs last night to give Nashville a short 1-0 lead in the first period. James Neal would finally make his presence known late in the second, giving Nashville the 2-1 lead going into the third period. I think a lot of us were too busy celebrating a successful second period that we forgot there was another period to go.

Welp, if the Predators play well with their backs against the wall, tomorrow should be no contest. I mean, they are practically hugging it at this point. Breaking Darling is really what Nashville needs to do now. He is trained on those long range missiles; let’s take it to the net. The issue with taking it to the net, however, is that the Predators are notorious for their terrible puck control, making it easy for Chicago to bat it [the puck] away from them, killing the focus. I’m going to keep it short today, as my brain has not recovered from the amount of caffeine I’ve just consumed and I do not want to cling to an outcome that cannot change. Come on home, boys.

Other Thoughts:

  • Rookie Kevin Fiala got his first taste of playoff hockey last night, becoming the sixth youngest player to do so in the organization. It was also – technically – his first away game, too.
  • Pekka Rinne just about stripped naked last night in an effort to locate the puck that was lost in his pads during the first overtime.

  • Mike Fisher participated in practice yesterday, but ended up bowing out of last night’s game. Still day-to-day with a lower-body injury, but maybe he’ll be ready for tomorrow?
  • What’s with Chicago (and the officials) not being able to count? Why does this keep happening?

  • Meaningless .gifs mean more fun for us… as long as they involve the Predators.

  • How was Pekka on point last night? Here’s a .gif of his last minute save that, without it, could’ve ended this game in regulation:

  • James Neal’s hit on Duncan Keith dislodged a panel of glass at one point. That’s cool.