The quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup is underway and with the exceptions of perennial favorites Pittsburgh and Vancouver (Both facing 0-3 deficits) all sixteen teams that have entered are still “in it to win it”. The Preds are no exception and after taking a 2-1 series lead over the Dead Things with a win at Joe Louis Arena (The Predators’ first ever postseason win at “The Joe” after going winless there in 6 previous tries in 2004 and 2008) are in the driver’s seat. It was a typical Preds win: grind it out, have an unlikely hero (In Game 3 it was Kevin Klein with a multipoint game, highlight reel goal, and game saving block), and having Pekka Rinne play on another level. With another performance that has become routine for the towering Finn 41 saves on 43 shots game Rinne showed once again why he is arguably the league’s preeminent net minder. It was not however a “perfect game” as the Preds still have many areas to improve upon if they want to post another 2 wins and end Detroit’s season. The Wings are not a team that can be slept on and with a potent offense that can put up goals at high level, Rinne will need to keep up his stellar play. Beyond Rinne Shea Weber has been the Predators 2nd best player through 3 games, sans his punch to the head of Henrik Zetteberg that almost earned him a “Shanaban”. With 2 clutch goals through the 3 games (neither one of which came from one of his patented bombs from the point, further emphasizing how much of a full and complete defenseman he has become) and stellar play in his own zone Weber showed why he is one of if not the best defenseman in the league. His “answering of the bell” in the first period of Game 2 was also admirable, after his punch to Zetterberg to end Game 1 Wings tough guy/power forward/ goon (I was a Steve Moore while he was at Harvard) Todd Bertuzzi called Weber out and #6 happily engaged Bertuzzi. It is the intangible things like that to uphold the honor of the game in addition to his all word talents that make Weber a great captain.
Game 4 is in Detroit Tuesday night and is the perfect opportunity for the Preds to put a stranglehold on the series. 90% of NHL teams that have taken a 3-1 series lead in a best of seven series have gone on to win and a win Tuesday night just that. If they continue to play as a team and Rinne continues his stellar play they will get the 2 wins they need to vanquish the hated Red Wings. There’s 2 wins in the books and 14 more to go for the ultimate prize.
For a video segment I’m including my series preview where I pick the Preds to win in 6.