Game Night in Smashville - Game 4
April 20, 2017, 9:43 AM ET [20 Comments]
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Game four is here and the Nashville Predators are in uncharted territory for this franchise… being up 3-0 in a series. That is wonderful and all, but being up 3-0 against the Chicago Blackhawks??? For Pred Nation… that is so freakin’ sweet! And fraught with peril, because having a 3-0 lead in a series is great, but completing the sweep is tough. How often does it happen? Well, after doing a little digging on whowins.com I came up with this…
In round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs, a team leading 3-0 in a series wins game four 62.5% of the time. The home team wins game four in this situation 64.7% of the time. Those are decent odds… but far from a sure thing… And that is the message to keep in mind here, just because this Nashville team is up 3-0, doesn’t automatically give this team game four. I expect Chicago to step up their game in a big way tonight. There is a reason the Hawks are 13-5 in elimination games under Head Coach Joel Quinneville. Say what you will, but this is a proud Chicago Blackhawks team that will not go quietly.
One of the funny parts of yesterday’s Blackhawks media availability was the attempted sale of the “pressure is all on them” message… hell, even Sean Spicer would have a tough time selling that one! It rang hollow coming from a clearly dejected Patrick Kane and didn’t feel much more authentic from Quinneville.
Let’s be honest here… the pressure doesn’t mount on these Nashville Predators unless they lose tonight, then turn around and lose game five… then the pucker factor begins to go through the roof. The problem for Pred Nation, which can sometimes be a bit paranoid, but in this case… that scenario is not unimaginable.
That has to be the major concern for the Predators coaching staff as well, keeping this team grounded and on point is a massive challenge in a situation when you deserve to feel good about where you are. It’s human nature. Head coach Peter Laviolette has been here before, only on the other side. He was the coach of the Philadelphia Flyers back in 2010 when they fell into a 0-3 hole against the Boston Bruins in the second round. The Flyers stormed back, won four straight and eventually succumbed to these very same Blackhawks in the Cup final. Can Laviolette use that experience to prevent it happening to his Predators… maybe… but the key lies with the Predators leadership group, and so far... they have been rock solid in their messaging and their work ethic.
If this Nashville team continues to play their system to perfection, continue to amp up their play to desperation levels and come out firing from puck drop tonight, all will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well.
You wonder if the date 4/20 has significance for the Nashville Predators (no… I am not referring to that 420) as April 20th is the five year anniversary of another dragon slaying… five years ago on this night, the Nashville Predators took down the Detroit Red Wings at Bridgestone Arena to finally beat big brother… the first measuring stick for this franchise. Since Detroit left for the Eastern Conference a new rival, a new measuring stick has taken their place… the Blackhawks… and tonight, the Nashville Predators have the opportunity to do something rare.
They can make history repeat itself.
Game time is 7pm… good luck finding a ticket… coverage on Fox Sports Tennessee, NBC Sports Network and the Predators Radio Network if you don’t have tickets, but that doesn’t have to stop you from coming downtown to have fun on the plaza… plaza party gets going at 4pm and I am pretty sure the game will be on the big screen on the plaza.
Last night’s SlapShot Radio was a good one, Pete and I talked to the radio voice of the Chicago Blackhawks, John Weideman, Edmonton Oilers radio voice Jack Edwards and ESPN hockey man, former NHL coach Barry Melrose. Give it a listen…
Washington vs. Toronto – Series tied 2-2 – Game 5 – tomorrow night in Washington
Montreal vs. New York – Series tied 2-2 – Game 5 – tonight in New York
Ottawa vs. Boston – OTT leads 3-1 – Game 5 – tomorrow night in Ottawa
Pittsburgh vs. Columbus – PIT leads 3-1 – Game 5 – tonight in Pittsburgh
Chicago vs. Nashville – NSH leads 3-0 – Game 4 tonight in Nashville
Anaheim vs. Calgary – ANA wins 4-0
Minnesota vs. St. Louis – STL leads 3-1 – Game 5 – Saturday in Minnesota
Edmonton vs. San Jose – Series tied 2-2 – Game 5 – tonight in Edmonton
Playoff Random Notes
- Keep an eye on playing time tonight… Laviolette has rolled four lines very consistently throughout the series…
- Tidbits to help keep you grounded… the home teams went 0-4 last night, including St. Louis’s chance to complete the sweep on Minnesota. Four teams have/had the opportunity to close out the sweep… only one has succeeded… last game four is tonight.
- Word from the Blackhawks dressing room is that they may be scratching Johnny Oduya tonight in favor of Michal Kempny
- Speaking of pressure… pressure is building on Jonathan Toews to be (as the Chicago media call him) Captain Clutch again… Toews hasn’t scored a goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2015… 12 games and counting.
- There could be the first lineup change on the Preds side of the puck as Craig Smith didn’t fully participate in yesterday’s practice after leaving the game in OT during game three.
- The first ticket to the second round is punched… Anaheim completed the sweep last night, thumping the Flames and now will await the winner of the Sharks/Oilers series… a series that has all the makings of going the distance. The Ducks may have to wait over a week for their second round series to start, time may be the only thing that arrests the roll that team has been on.
- Four games in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight, all times CST – 6pm – CBJ @ PIT (NHLN), NYR @ MTL (USA). 7pm – CHI @ NSH (NBCSN). 9:30pm – SJS @ EDM (NBCSN).