Nashville Predators: Setting the Table for the Rubber Match Against Chicago

Eeli Tolvanen #28 of the Nashville Predators celebrates his third period goal with Mikael Granlund #64 while playing the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on February 23, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Eeli Tolvanen #28 of the Nashville Predators celebrates his third period goal with Mikael Granlund #64 while playing the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on February 23, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Okay, Nashville Predators fans. One deep breath in, and out… now exhale.

The middle of the third period from Wednesday’s 5-4 OT loss is behind us, and now the Predators have a chance for a statement game in the rubber match of this current three-game set, and regular season finale against the Chicago Blackhawks!

It’s nearly game time and each matchup from here to the finish is crucial to getting the No.4 spot and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Make no mistake about it people; Our “Flint, Michigan Mega Bowl” is coming May 1 against the Dallas Stars, but that’s a topic for a week from now.

Let’s look at the opponent directly in front of us tonight, riding high off a third period comeback that most Predators fans would like avenged tonight at the United Center.

Short Memory Syndrome for the Nashville Predators

For the Predators this is the second time in the last four games where we hope the entire team goes through a little short memory syndrome.

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The middle of the final frame from Wednesday night’s utter collapse was an onslaught the likes of which we haven’t seen since D3: The Mighty Ducks, and the debut of the JV Eden Hall Warriors vs. The Blake Freshman Bears.

Biggest difference was, the Predators weren’t able to grab any new uniforms in between the 3rd period and overtime break to inspire a reclamation of a game they seemed to so clearly have in hand.

But, like we said, we are moving on from Wednesday to tonight where the Predators will have no choice but to flush their latest result and get back to their winning ways, especially since they received some help from some friends in low places in the Central division standings that is. (Sorry, not sorry Detroit) after the Red Wings earned a decisive 7-3 victory over Dallas last night to help cushion the blow of Wednesday’s result.

Keep the Pedal Down

The Predators have had their way with the Blackhawks this season achieving a 6-0-1 record, and until Wednesday were living completely rent free in the Chicago organization’s minds.

Now, the test becomes one of resilience, and earning critical points as the race gets tighter and tighter for the final birth into the post-season. The Predators will need to come out firing on all cylinders, attack the net front, get the first goal, lay the body, be smart defensively, stay disciplined, etc.

Did I get all the clichés? Please let me know in the comments if I missed any.

Regardless, tonight’s finale with the Blackhawks is incredibly pivotal with the Hawks now only three points behind the Preds.

This begs the question, is the race for the top spot in the Central Division more exciting, or the race for fourth? Well, if the entertainment value of which we’ve been treated to between the Predators, Blackhawks, and Stars has been any indication, my eye is on who gets the Mega Bowl.

It will be critical for the Predators to reignite the killer instinct to earn a much-needed win going into a rare weekend off. To put it simply, the boys need to empty the gas tank and leave it all on the United Center ice tonight.

25-21-2 (52P). 151. Balley Sports South, ESPN+. 94. 7 PM CT. Friday, April 23. 22-20-5 (49P). NSH -134, CHI +116

Intriguing Insights

Eeli Tolvanen made his return to the lineup felt in a big way scoring in his return from the Bally Sports Injury graphic of doom. The budding young star scored his 11th goal this season and his continued offensive prowess will be counted upon highly in tonight’s contest.

Roman Josi continues to do Roman Josi things regaining his title as the team’s leading scorer on the season with 29 Points (6 Goals, 23 Assists). His creativity and reinforcements with Tolvanen’s return on the power play will surely aid the Predators in trying to get pucks past Malcolm Subban for a second-straight game, as confirmed by Daily Faceoff.

Juuse Saros remains unconfirmed as the crease holder for the Preds tonight, however with the magnitude of the game at stake and his ability to bounce back this season after tough outings combined with the nearing weekend of rest, it’s hard to imagine him not getting the nod tonight unless Coach John Hynes sees Saros already running on fumes.

Ritzy’s Rule

Get the momentum back! As deflating as that three-plus minutes of anarchy was on Wednesday night we saw the Predators fight to get an overtime point highlighted by a critical four-minute penalty kill that kept things knotted at 4-4 going into the extra frame.

The Predators must make their presence felt early physically, and ideally on the scoreboard to remind Chicago just how much we care about keeping the rent controlled.

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It is sure to be a great contest between these two rivals to close out an incredibly entertaining, and for Predators fans and the team, a rewarding one as the Predators have earned 13 of a possible 14 points to date in this season series.

Time to go out and finish the job and plunge “Chelsea’s Dagger” right in the hearts of Blackhawks fans across the country!