The Nashville Predators try to get back in the win column when they face the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night in game 2 of the Western Conference semi-finals.
Nashville was shut out on Thursday and lost by a 1-0 score. The Predators were outplayed but kept in the game by the remarkable play of Vezina Trophy nominated Pekka Rinne. The Predators netminder stopped 29 of 30 shots, which included 16 shots in the first period alone.
After the game, head coach Barry Trotz said the team had “too many passengers” and “not enough players pulling on the rope.”
Nashville did look better in the third period and will try to carry that momentum into Game 2 in Vancouver, before returning back to Bridgestone Arena for Games 3 and 4 next week. Less than 300 tickets remained for Game 3 on Friday for Tuesday night’s game in Nashville.
If the Predators are going to win, they need to stay out of the box. While their five minor penalties didn’t hurt them Thursday night, it will given the potency of the Canucks power play that was 22.2% during the first round (incidentally tied with the Predators). Nashville needs to depend on Patric Hornqvist to put up points, something he cannot do if he sits for six minutes in the box for three penalties.
Is this the game that Nashville reinserts Colin Wilson into the lineup? Matt Halischuk played 8:25 during game 1. He had no shots on goal and other than a missed shot did not show up on the scoresheet at all. Halishuck has been a consistent source of energy during the playoffs and filled in admirably for Martin Erat on the Legwand line while Erat wasn’t playing. But when goals are at a premium, is it time to take a chance on Wilson? A line consisting of Steve Sullivan, Colin Wilson centered by Blake Geoffrion sounds like a great fourth line, one that should be hard to defend against.
If Wilson is not in the lineup, and the Predators lose Game 2, Nashville fans should expect him back in the lineup for Game 3.
The Canucks will need to keep the pressure on if they are going to beat the Predators. The forwards had no problem entering the Predators zone, which means Nashville was obviously not playing its game Thursday night. If they Predators defend the blue line, the Canucks won’t get the quality shots they did on Thursday and will have to play a patient game, hoping and waiting for Nashville to make mistakes.
Roberto Luongo needs to stay on top of his game. He can’t leave Game 1 thinking the Canucks have got this under control because he wasn’t tested the way the Predators need to test them to win games in the series.
One thing is for certain, Vancouver is about to see a different Nashville team Saturday night than it did on Thursday.
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