Against all odds, the Nashville Predators went into a hostile environment and shut it down. Now, the famed Whiteout in Winnipeg is dark.
Every team in sports has their gimmicks. Sometimes it is the venue itself, like Wrigley Field’s ivy or the Big Green Monster in Boston. It could be the special nights, such as Star Wars night or bobblehead giveaways. Having worked hundreds of college games, there were several tricks to get fans to the games and cheering. There were Blueouts, Blackouts, and Whiteouts. What Winnipeg did was impressive, but ineffective. And the Nashville Predators darkened the Jets Whiteout.
We heard it all series: the Jets were the best home team in all the NHL. Their players commented on the authentic crowd noise produced by their fans. In an arena in all white, it was the team in white that played the best hockey. The guarantee by P.K. Subban proved correct and the entire Predators’ team played the game of the series. They leave Winnipeg winning 2 of 3 on the road, including a shutout.
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Now, the series moves back to Nashville – correction, Smashville – for a winner-take-all Game 7. Can the Predators take what they learned in Game 6 and bring it home with them?
Takeaways from Game 6
The battle of the top-lines was won by the Predators in Game 6. Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg accounted for all for goals, and Ryan Johansen added two assists. As a group, the JoFA line provided eight points. Johansen played remarkable minutes on the penalty kill, winning two faceoffs and deflecting pucks all night. The trio took hits, gave hits, gained the puck, and never gave up.
While Kevin Fiala is not finding the back of the net, he is playing extremely well. Last night, Fiala gained quality chances at the net by creating turnovers. It would be easy to get frustrated, being a young player that is having issues scoring. Just look at Patrik Laine. But, Fiala played both sides of the ice. With two takeaways and three blocks, Fiala contributed to the action all night long.
Late in the first period, the Nashville Predators lost Mike Fisher for the rest of the game. Lines were shuffled. Down a man, others had to step up and play bigger minutes. The burden fell on Nick Bonino and Austin Watson. Both played over 16 minutes of time during 5v5 situation, the most of all forwards on the Predators. When the Jets were going all out for a goal, Bonino and Watson played their best. Bonino started in the defensive zone over 95% of his time on the ice. and Watson nearly 80%. Their play was crucial to the effort.
Pekka Rinne…….nothing else needs to be said. The Vezina-finalist saved every shot. Over half of the Jets attempts came from medium or high danger areas. With the way he played the rest of the series, two of the shots would have found the net. Nothing made it through. Rinne was spectacular.
It was not all positive. Roman Josi may have obtained two assists, the rest of his game was sub-par. The captain took a couple big hits and turned the puck over four times. The Jets continue to pin Josi to a wall in their offensive zone or keep his clearing attempts in their zone. Thankfully, Josi blocked several shots but did little else to help defensively.
All in all, it was a great performance for the Nashville Predators. Can they win two games in a row and end the series? We wait for Game 7 on Thursday.