I bet you never thought you would see this image. The city of Nashville is ready and excited. Are the Predators ready? They took a 4-3 victory over Anaheim at Bridgestsone Arena Sunday night on a game winning goal from Mike Fisher.
The Predators are now presented with the opportunity which they had last year- to go up 3-1 in the series on their home ice. They were not ready last year as they were held in check by the Chicago Blackhawks and never won another game in the series.
But there's a different feeling this year.
Fearless captain Shea Weber seems to will this team victory as Tim Tebow did for Florida and as Kobe Bryant does for the Lakers. Weber and his beard will not let his team lie down as they did just a year ago. The Predators have a different attitude in the locker room and a different look on the ice. They are staying true to the Barry Trotz style of play, but there also seems to be more of a commitment to scoring. They have averaged 3.66 goals per game in the series so far while holding the deadly Duck's offense to 3 goals per game. "Predators Hockey" has never looked so pretty.
So can Nashville beat a desperate Ducks team? The Ducks were desperate in game two and took advantage of a flat-footed Predators team and therefore earned a 5-3 win mainly because of strong first period play. But this game is in front of the ruckus Bridgestone Arena crowd which was coined as the loudest building arena in the league when the games matter this much and when the building is packed by TSN's Pierre McGuire. Pred Nation will once again prove to be just that on Wednesday night.
For the Ducks to win this game, they will have to find chemistry. With Bobby Ryan serving the second and final game of his suspension, the RPG line will be broken up again. The Ducks had many quality passes to the slot early in game three that simply went straight to the sideboards due to the lack of chemistry. They also need to rekindle the feeling of desperation which they had in Anaheim for game two. This should not be very difficult considering going down 3-1 in the series is obviously not a good place to be.
For the Predators to win, they must do what they did Sunday night- shoot the puck, crash the net. If execute this then they should easily beat the immobile Emery in net. Nashville's mentality, however, may be the most important factor in Wednesday night's contest. The players should first of all have a game seven mentality. A win results in three chances to win the series. A loss forces Nashville to win another road game and gives all the momentum over to Anaheim. Having this in mind, getting to high or too low after Wednesday night's result could also be detrimental. Easier said than done. The Predators must also believe they can win this game. The Ghost of First Round Failures' Past will certainly creep in many Nashvillian's minds, but the Predators should completely block this out. An inch of doubt gives Anaheim a mile of confidence.
Shea Weber's will to win has been incredible down the stretch for Nashville, and it should continue tonight. Both the Predators fans and the team itself believe this is the year, and that belief holds off the desperate Anaheim Ducks.
Predators win 4-3.
Photo Credit: nashvillest.com