Nashville Predators Trying to Extend Their Stay in Edmonton Bubble

Darcy Kuemper #35 of the Arizona Coyotes skates over to the celebrating Nashville Predators Ryan Ellis #4,Matt Duchene #95,Roman Josi #59,Kyle Turris #8 and Rocco Grimaldi #23 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Darcy Kuemper #35 of the Arizona Coyotes skates over to the celebrating Nashville Predators Ryan Ellis #4,Matt Duchene #95,Roman Josi #59,Kyle Turris #8 and Rocco Grimaldi #23 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

If the Nashville Predators are going to stick around in the Edmonton bubble, they have to respond to some major adversity like they’ve been doing since November.

There’s no more room for error for the Nashville Predators if they’re going to extend their Stanley Cup Qualifier to a decisive Game 5 on Sunday. A win is needed, and it’s going to take a complete effort.

The Arizona Coyotes are up 2-1 in the series because they’re taking advantage of the opportunities they get while also getting production from some of their top players.

The Predators are getting strong play from their top line as well, but their second line featuring Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund has largely been non-existent, or existent for the wrong reasons.

Lineup changes needed?

Head Coach John Hynes is now having to make some serious adjustments on the off day to maximize the talent of this team and put together this team’s best performance under his short tenure that began back in January.

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Calls for lineup changes are naturally happening as the Predators are on the brink of elimination. Hynes has yet to make a lineup change through the first three games. He’s kept his starting goaltender as Juuse Saros over Pekka Rinne, and hasn’t activated any of the healthy scratches, most notably Colin Blackwell.

Saros has saved 81 shots on 90 Arizona attempts, good for a 90 save percentage. He did have his shutout spoiled in the last 60 seconds of Game 2.

It’s going to be very intriguing to see if Hynes makes a switch at goaltender to Rinne, or shifts a player or two to a different line. He may just decide to stick to his guns and hope that the team replicates its performance from the Game 2 win, which was a masterful defensive showing until the last 60 seconds of regulation.

To win Game 4 later today it’s going to take a rock solid defensive showing from the Predators. I doubt that they’re going to manage more than two or three goals on Darcy Kuemper, who absolutely shut down the Predators in Game 3.

There might be a defensive lineup change from Hynes in Game 4. Perhaps you put the veteran Dan Hamhuis out there on the third pairing in place of Yannick Weber, or put Blackwell in the lineup for more defensive presence from your forwards.

An official projected lineup will be updated as it’s announced closer to puck drop.

What it’s going to take to win Game 4

The Predators have to limit high danger scoring chances and power plays for an opportunistic Arizona squad that should have enormous confidence right now. Keep the score below three goals and the Predators should be able to do just enough to squeak out a close win and get this to a Game 5.

It wasn’t an all-out terrible game from the Predators in Game 4. They had their chances early and often to build a multi-goal lead, but Kuemper kept them scoreless until Viktor Arvidsson finally cranked one by him.

Entering the final period my confidence was high that the Predators would find a way to win. Then a offside blunder by Duchene negated the Kyle Turris go-ahead goal, and the rest is history.

Duchene absolutely has to respond to this lack of production and have himself a great game today. He has to fuel the second line into more production offensively, draw penalties and just avoid catastrophic mistakes.

If the lines are shaken up, then Duchene still has to make his impact known in a positive way wherever and whoever his linemates end up being.

A combination of bad luck, mental lapses and key players not showing up are the reasons the Predators are on the brink of elimination. If they can swing the luck and eliminate the mental mistakes, then they have what it takes to get the win today and force a Game 5 on Sunday.

Opening faceoff set for 1:30 P.M. CDT later today and will be nationally televised on NHL Network and regionally televised on Fox Sports Tennessee.