It's time to get this party started, as the Predators face the Balckhawks in the first round of their Stanley Cup tilt.
some thoughts on game day:
The Predators have been playing playoff hockey since the Olympic break, as they have fought their way in to the top eight in the Western Conference and a playoff berth. This will serve the team well in an intense series. They are used to playing pressure packed hockey. They are used to playing one goal games. Use this experience to your advantage.
It will be important for a veteran player to step up in this series. Not only on the ice- that is imperative- but in the locker room as well. The Predators will face adversity and challenge in this series, and they must respond on and off the ice. The youth on this roster will be looking to the veterans for their cue. Arnott, Sullivan, Dumont, are you listening?
The top lines have to produce. That is obvious. For this team to vanquish the Blackhawks, however, the third and fourth lines are going to have to score. Throughout the season, these lines have chipped in with timely goals. They must continue to do so in this series.
The Predators have to withstand the initial push of the Blackhawks, especially in this opening game. The crowd will be in full throat and amped to the max. They must maintain their composure and play sound hockey. The longer they thwart the potent Hawk offense, the more they take the crowd out of the game. Force them to play Predator hockey and minimize the home ice advantage.
Shoot the puck! Make Niemi make saves and put the pressure on him. Both goalies are not playoff tested, but I will put my money on Pekka Rinne to handle the pressure.
Chicago will score. Make them work for every score. No defensive breakdowns, no dumb penalties, no half-assed efforts. When they score- respond!
Draw on the experience and presence of the coaches.Their calm demeanor belies a fire that burns within. Play with composure, and play with fire in your belly.
It's time to bring it, boys. You put up with an 82 game grind for this. This is what it is all about, and when you skate off the ice, know that you left everything you had on that ice. You can win this series. It won't be easy. There will be challenges and set backs, but this is yours for the taking.
You live for the playoffs.
It's time to play Predator hockey.