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Game Day Blog: Conference Quarterfinals Game 3

by Tom Callahan / Nashville Predators
Game Day Preview

Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Western Conference Semifinal, Series tied 1-1
Bridgestone Arena, 8 pm CST
Fox Sports Tennessee (HD)  |  Radio: 104.5 The Zone, Predators Radio Network

It’s bounce-back time for Nashville, just as it was for Antti Niemi and the Hawks in Game Two. Heading back into the safe haven that is Bridgestone Arena, the Predators are looking forward to getting the momentum back on its side tonight.

The biggest question mark is going to be Patric Hornqvist and whether or not he’s able to return to the lineup tonight. After being scratched from Game Two, he is listed as a “game-time decision” by head coach Barry Trotz. Let’s hope that Nashville does indeed get him back into the lineup, as his grit and determination alone are missed! Of course, I could mention his amazing ability to take abuse, get under the opposing goalie’s skin, and tip pucks out of midair, but I think that goes without saying.

For the Blackhawks they need to continue to chip away at the solid netminding of Pekka Rinne. Patrick Kane said today that the Predators play tough defense and they’re not easy to break through on, but the plan is to just keep hammering away, waiting for chances, and burying them when they come. Sounds pretty familiar to Nashville fans, that’s the way the Predators need to execute on offense as well. They simply have to generate more shots and more scoring chances in this game.

  • Brian Campbell is not going to play tonight, and saw team doctors on Sunday. Although the Hawks say he is progressing nicely, they still do not list a timetable for his or Kim Johnsson’s (concussion) return.
  • The freshly-cobbled line of Dustin Boyd, Nick Spaling, and Jerred Smithson showed the most offensive jump in Game Two, and was the only unit Barry Trotz said generated second and third chances with any regularity. It is possible the line will stay intact for tonight’s Game Three.
  • Ryan Suter’s four third period shots on goal in Game Two tied a franchise record for a post-season period.
Keys to the Game
  • Vinegar. Sandpaper. Grit. Abrasiveness. Any way you want to phrase it, Nashville needs more of it. They simply didn’t annoy or pester the Hawks to any great detail, whether it be on the forecheck to pressure the team’s D, or be it when set up in the offensive zone in front of Antti Niemi. This has to happen for Nashville to be successful. For a team built on hard work, it has to show.
  • Barry Trotz said back at the beginning of the year “our best players have to be our best players.” That has to kick in tonight against the Blackhawks.
  • Put tape on Patrick Kane’s and Jonathan Toews’ skates.
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