Round 2 starts tonight! The Nashville Predators travel to St. Louis to battle the Blues in Game 1 of their 2nd round series. The way the 2 goalies started this playoff year, this looks to be a low scoring series, where every little play will count. Look for St. Louis to be physical and try to cycle the Predators down low in their defensive end. The Predators will be looking to escape quickly and counter the Blues with their speed. Should be fun to watch.
Here are the 3 keys to tonight’s matchup:
#1 – Kevin Fiala. The young rookie was sensational in Round 1 against Chicago. Fiala will not have as much freedom to create in this series, so he will have to be prepared to work much harder. If he is willing to do that and continue to push the pace, he will keep his line dangerous and this will force the Blues to spread out their top defensemen.
#2 – Play Their Game. If the Blues are able to impose their style of play on the Preds, this series will not go well. Nashville has to be willing to fight through the board play to get their counter attack going. If they can do this regularly tonight, we could all be very happy.
#3 – James Neal. Neal has played a great game so far. He has been physical and great at creating turnovers. However, offensively he has not shown up yet. With only 1 assist in Round 1, they need him to provide more scoring. If he gets it going, that line with he, Fiala and Calle Jarnkrok could provide a huge punch for this team.
Tonight’s game is a 7pm CT start. All games from here will be on national television. Tonight’s game will be on NBCSN.
Follow me on Twitter at danieljones@dj_puckplanet