After falling behind 2-0 on the road to begin the series, the Predators needed a strong showing at home. They did just that and fought back to tie the series at two games apiece. Now it turns into a best-of-three series, with two of the potential three games being in Pittsburgh. Nashville has been dominant at home this postseason, winning nine of their ten games at Bridgestone Arena. Now to set themselves up for a storybook finish at home in front of their fans, they need to steal one on the road in Pittsburgh.
It seems that every neutral hockey fan on the planet is rooting heavily for the Predators to win the Stanley Cup. A huge part of this has to do with the incredible vibe of their city while they rise to support their team. Well, that and the fact that there are quite a bit of people who would root for anyone over Sidney Crosby. It just seems that each and every game played at Bridgestone Arena is filled with excitement and the building is absolutely ROCKING. It was nice seeing hockey being covered so much in the sports media this past week due to the Nashville fans heckling of Pens goalie Matt Murray.
“HE SHOOTS, HE SCORES! YOU SUCK! MURRAY! MURRAY! MURRAY! YOU SUCK! IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT! IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT! IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!”
Now that is a perfect 10/10 for execution. It is great to see a smaller market becoming this alive for the Final and just having fun with it. This is great for the sport of hockey in general. Instead of having the typical big market teams repeatedly getting to the Final, this is a welcomed change of pace. Nashville and their fans certainly seem to be up for the task and are acting like they have been here before.
It’s no wonder the Preds have been playing so well at home when they have those fans behind them. The fact that you can hear those chants loud and clear through your television set is totally impressive. At points, the picture on the television even shakes a bit because the building is so loud, it is literally vibrating. This is comparable to the Seattle Seahawks and their 12th man.
Things have not been as fun and exciting on the road for the Predators in the finals. Despite dominating play at points, they just could not figure it out and lost both games in Pittsburgh. In order to win the Cup, they are going to have to win at least one game on the road. Ideally, they would prefer to take Game 5 and get it out of the way so they can seal the deal at home in Game 6. Also, the idea of having to play a Game 7 in Pittsburgh does not seem very appealing.
Keys for success for Nashville
The most important thing for the Predators to continue their winning streak is the play of Pekka Rinne.
In the first two losses, Rinne looked unlike himself, letting in some rather soft goals. In the following two wins, Pekka significantly improved his play and made some very timely saves that helped Nashville secure the victories. Rinne has been the anchor for the Predators throughout the entire postseason. The Stanley Cup Final is not the time where you can take games off as a goaltender. The Predators will need Rinne to be in top form, if they plan on holding off Crosby and company.
Question for Pekka Rinne:
It will be just as important for the Predators skaters to shut down the attack of Pittsburgh and help out Rinne. Over the past few games, Pittsburgh has had an abundance of breakaways and Rinne will only be able to stop so many before some get past him. Nashville’s defensive pairs have excelled throughout the playoffs and will need to continue to do so moving forward. Game 5 is Nashville’s chance to make a stand and take the advantage in the series.