Upset-Minded Nashville Predators Killing It — So Far
The Preds have a surprising, commanding 2-0 lead over the Blackhawks.
If you suspected one team would be involved in a torching in the Central Division playoffs, you’d think the Nashville Predators.
Well, you were right that the Predators would be involved. Only thing is, it’s the Predators doing the slaying.
The Chicago Blackhawks, considered by many to be a favorite in the Western Conference, were shut out in Games 1 and 2 against Nashville. Both of these contests were in Chicago’s home arena; the Hawks now go on the road potentially facing elimination.
How Did The Nashville Predators Do It?
Prior to the series, we suggested what most would have thought: it was on Pekka Rinne to step up and keep the Preds in the series.
There’s not much more he could have done, given that he shut out the Blackhawks twice in Chicago.
In Game 1, it wasn’t all him, and the Predators defense blocked shots and clogged up the Chicago offense. Rinne still made 29 saves in the win.
As we also suggested, the top-shelf talent on the Preds, like Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg, needed to show up in a big way. Arvidsson potted the only Nashville goal in Game 1, with Forsberg getting an assist in Game 2. In a very encouraging development for the Nashville Predators, their six playoff goals so far were scored by six different players.
Game 2 Rinne was about as good as Game 1, and the Nashville defense did its job in spectacular fashion. Nashville hit hard and more often, also doing well on faceoffs; better than in the first meeting. The key difference was the nightmare his counterpart, Corey Crawford, had. Five goals allowed on 29 shots in a game Chicago trailed almost out of the gate.
Remaining Series Outlook
Nashville probably would have been happy taking one game in Chicago. Taking two makes them the favorite to win the series, given that they now control home-ice advantage. The Predators were a sub-par road team during the regular season, but now they return home, where they went 24-9-8. Just two wins in three games at home sends Nashville to the second round.
Chicago is a fine road team, with 24 wins during the regular season outside of their confines. The Blackhawks now have to win at least two games in Nashville, and they did just that prior to the playoffs.
Don’t make the mistake of saying that the Blackhawks are done. Yet, it is very fair to suggest they’re in trouble. Hell, more than fair: it’s accurate. Wherever their star players have been, it’s time for them to step up or Chicago’s going home early.