The Nashville Predators have a chance to change the narrative of the Stanley Cup Final in Game 3 tonight in Smashville. The Predators currently trail the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 in the series. After having played 2 very solid games, both marred by 3 to 4 terrible minutes in each game, the Predators find themselves in their first must win situation of these playoffs.
The city of Nashville is buzzing with excitement right now and the players need to find a way to harness that and put it to use on the ice tonight. The Predators a very comfortable in this building, playing in front of these fans. They must use this opportunity to right the ship for themselves. Bridgestone Arena is going to be busting at its seams tonight with energy. The first Stanley Cup Final game in Nashville will be a sight to behold. So, let’s have some fun!
Ok, so I want to weigh in on a subject I have been avoiding, Pekka Rinne. All this talk that he does not need to start Game 3 is just, well….silly. Could he have made another save or two? Sure. Is he partly to blame for a few of those goals? Yes. However, he has been hung out to dry by those around him as well. Too lay all the blame at his feet for these first two loses is just wrong. Rinne has taken all the blame, because that is the kind of player he is. Yet, he does not deserve it all.
Every player on this team to a man has stood up for their goaltender after the first 2 games. That alone should tell you something. Roman Josi was visibly angry at himself for Rinne being pulled in Game 2. Pekka Rinne should and will start tonight. Does this mean the rope will not be short? Most likely it will be short, but the big Finn deserves this chance. I for one, think he will redeem himself tonight and help the Predators get back into the series.
Now, let’s look at the 3 keys to the game:
The Best, have to be the Best. So far, through 2 games, the Predators best players have not been their best players. They need Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, James Neal and Rinne to step up and play like we all know they can. If we cannot get scoring from those 3 forwards, it may not matter how well Rinne plays tonight.
Focus. Once again, a lack of focus caught the Predators in Game 2 and led to another defeat. This team has got to play with the same focus for an entire 60 minutes against the Pens. They can strike quickly and you have to be prepared and focused to keep that strike to 1 and not let it turn into 3.
The Crowd. Tonight, is what those of us have dreamed about since day 1 of this franchise. This is our chance to show our team, that other team and all of the NHL what we here in Nashville are all about. First and for most, we are Predators. We love this team and stand behind them no matter what. You think you have heard this crowd loud up to this point? Well you haven’t heard anything yet!
Now. Let’s get this party started!
Tonight’s game starts at 7pm CT in Nashville. The game can be seen on NBCSN.
Follow me on Twitter at danieljones@dj_puckplanet