Road 2 The Cup: Preds hoping to repeat history, force Game 7

Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, of Finland, drinks during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series against the Winnipeg Jets, Friday, April 27, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Once again it’s time for the biggest game of the season for the Nashville Predators. If they don’t win this one the team won’t have to worry about taking the ice until October.  

Let’s not think like that, though. It is the #PlayoffsofPositivity, after all.  

Tonight’s lineup will look a lot like Game 4’s. Scott Hartnell will likely see the ice again and Calle Jarnkrok, albeit a little injured, will skate as well according to morning line rushes.  

While any changes are welcome after that disastrous Game 5, I think everyone needs to calm down when it comes to line combinations in this series.  

To me, and I’m no more than expert than anyone else, having one or two of Fiala, Hartman, Hartnell, Jarnkrok, and Salomaki in the lineup is not why the Predators are winning or losing. It’s a team game.  

When the team as a whole works together toward a concentrated game plan the Preds find a way to win.  

Just look at Game 4. The Predators changed everything and decided to try and trap Winnipeg in their own zone with a relentless forecheck. Nashville also did a very good job of clogging to the neutral zone, making it harder on a speedy Jets team to carry the puck into the zone.  

Nashville also changed the way they exited their defensive zone. In Game 1 Nashville tried to go down the middle of the ice and start their offense that way. They were not successful. Winnipeg slowed them down and created turnovers, making Nashville’s forwards look silly.  

In Game 2, a win for Nashville, the Predators used the walls and their defenseman’s speed to generate scoring chances.  

Fans are lucky that Nashville can change up their game plan with a few lineup changes. That’s what a team with good depth can do. It’s what General Manager David Poile wanted when he built this team.  

Plus, a lot of Nashville’s players have been in this situation, a must-win Game 6, before.  

Just think back to two years ago when the Predators had to win Game 6 against Anaheim to force a Game 7 back in California. I personally remember Coach Laviolette telling the team to pack a bag that would last them a week because they were so confident they’d take Game 7 and play San Jose in the second round.  

Nashville won that Game 6 against Anaheim and then was tasked with winning another elimination game just a week or so later. 

Fourteen of the players on that roster from 2016 are still with the Predators. They’ve been in this spot before they’ve advanced. Why are so many people acting like the season is already over? It’s definitely not. 

The Predators are the better team in this series, if they play like it they’ll be fine. I’m excited, and very scared, to watch a Game 7 in Smashville on Thursday. See you then.  

Hunter Patterson is a Social Media Marketer at WKRN and an avid Preds fan. His favorite Predator ever is Jerred Smithson and he realizes that’s a little weird. You can read Hunter’s Tweets at @hpatt15 and listen to his Preds-centric podcast, The GMDP, here.

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