Make Playoffs – Check
Win First Franchise Playoff Road Game – Check
Win First Franchise Playoff Road Series – TBD
The Nashville Predators raised a few eyebrows with their victory over the Chicago Blawkhawks on Friday. Equally as shocking was that it was Nashville’s first playoff road victory in their franchise history. While the final score was 4-1, the real score was 2-1 as Nashville added two insurance goals late in the game while Chicago had their goalie pulled.
In game #2, expect the Blackhawks to come out flying and increasing the physicality of the game. Neither team will say that they played exceptionally well in the series opener, but for those who watch Nashville, it’s hard to suggest they didn’t play one of their best games of the year between the pipes and defensively. Chicago doesn’t have to play at its best to win, Nashville does.
So as we look at game #2, here are the key points for each team
Denis Grebeshkov – Out since 3/9 with lower body injury – Is skating with the team – Is available for game #2. If inserted into the game, will replace Cody Franson who due to his lack of speed might be a liability against the speedy Blackhawks
Brian Campbell – Out since 3/14 with a broken clavicle and ribs – Is currently skating with team ahead of schedule – Might possibly return during the series – Not expected to be in game #2
Kim Johnsson –Out since 3/13 with possible concussion – Has not started skating with the team – Not expected to play in first round series
Players to Watch:
J.P. Dumont – After netting 2 goals and leading Nashville to a game one victory over the Blackhawks, Dumont will be counted to continue his playoff success (29 points in 42 career playoff games).
Jason Arnott – At some point Arnott will have to step up as team captain and lead this team. You can only go so far with 2nd and 3rd line scoring. For Nashville to be successful, Arnott will have to lead the first line and allow fellow linemates Colin Wilson and Martin Erat to open up their game.
Shea Weber and Ryan Suter – Both Olympians, it could be said that their energy levels are down from what they were prior to the Olympics. While each still leads the team in minutes, more is expected of them. Suter needs to find ways to get Weber open on the power plays and Weber need to figure out how to improve the accuracy on his slapshots. Both need to improve their defense.
Dustin Boyd and Denis Grebeshkov – While the lineups have not been announced for tonights game, its is rumored that both Boyd and Grebeshkov will be in the lineup replacing Spalding and Franson. Neither Spalding or Franson has warrented a demotion, but in the playoffs the Predators might be looking for more experience. Both Boyd and Grebeshkov bring added scoring ability which Nashville might be looking to improve upon.
Antti Niemi – After allowing 2 goals in the first game (2 goals were empty netters), the focus on game 2 will be on how Niemi handles the pressure. If Chicago loses game #2, questions over whether to start Cristobal Huet in net for game #3 will surface. Unless Chicago gets blown out in game #2, this would be a huge mistake as Niemi has carried this team the last half of the season and more importantly played a solid game in the opener.
Marian Hossa – The Marian Hossa curse continues to linger. I won’t go into the details of this curse, but at some point he has to live up to the expectations on his shoulders and actually lead a team. Hossa played physically in the opener, but still failed to put up any points.
Patrick Kane – Kane was all over the ice in game one and tallied Chicago’s only goal. For Chicago to even up the series, Kane must continue to play with energy and determination. But as good as he was, he only managed to get one shot on goal. He along with the rest of the high powered offense of Chicago will have to put more pucks on net. Chicago only put 24 pucks on net in the first game, 8 shots fewer then their average.
Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith – Rumors are floating around that they may be reunited on the first line to spark the lack of offense. If this happens, how will each of the other 2 lines hold up. Will the offense that is gained by moving Seabrook up to the 1st line account for the drop in defense on the 2nd and 3rd lines?
Date: Sunday 4/18
Location: United Center – Chicago
Time: 8:30 Eastern (7:30 Central)
Television: VERSUS(HD), RIS, TSN(HD), FS-TN(HD)
About the Author
Written by Mark Jasper