The Nashville Predators will be looking to take a 2-0 series lead tonight when they face the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2. The Predators frustrated the Hawks on the way to a 1-0 Game 1 win, they are hoping to do the same tonight. As of this writing, I have not seen lineups for either team posted anywhere. However, there was an optional skate yesterday and again no sign of Colin Wilson, so it is not looking good for Game 2 for the winger.
Here are the 3 keys to tonight’s matchup:
#1 – Puck Control. The Preds did a great job of keeping the Hawks to the outside in Game 1. However, they allowed them to have the puck way too much for the 2nd and 3rd periods. That has to change if the Preds want to come home up 2-0. They cannot allow the Blackhawks to dominate possession for a second straight game.
#2 – Depth Scoring. This season the Predators had 12 double-digit goal scorers. That depth has to show up for Game 2. Trying to rely on the top line to be your only scoring threat is not a recipe for victory. In Game 1 the line of Colton Sissons, Pontus Aberg and Craig Smith put on some good pressure at times, but they were the only other line to do so. They need those depth guys to chip in.
#3 – James Neal. It has been several months since we have seen James Neal be “The Real Deal”. The Predators need “The Real Deal” to show up tonight. Game 1 was a step in the right direction as Neal was very involved physically, but the Preds need him to be a force with the puck on his stick. Neal is the kind of player that can change a game when he is taking charge with the puck on his stick. There was only 1 shot on goal in Game 1 coming from Neal’s stick, that has to change.
Tonight’s game is a 7 pm CT start. It can be seen exclusively on NBC.