After the Nashville Predators arrived at their hotel in San Jose around 5 p.m. local time yesterday, it's probably safe to assume many were turning it in for the night just a few hours later. It likely wasn’t difficult for most to shut their eyes either, considering they had played a game that required almost 112 minutes to complete not even a day earlier.
So as the Preds prepare for Game Five tonight against the Sharks at SAP Center, Nashville hopes to have their legs back under them after many - if not all players - set career highs for ice time in a single game in their 4-3, triple-overtime win.
“I had a lot [of sleep] last night,” center Ryan Johansen said after a team meeting on Saturday. “I got to bed really early, which was nice, but rest is so important, especially after nights like that. I’m looking forward to my nap today, too.”
Managing rest is always paramount at this time of the year. But since they started their current playoff run on April 15 in Anaheim, the Preds have played a game every other day. That’s 11 up to this point, plus a few flights from Nashville to California and back.
“We’ve just got to be smart and take it when we can,” center Mike Fisher said of getting enough rest. “We’ve played a lot of hockey, so hopefully we can make the most of it and just get energized and ready for a huge game tonight.”
The Predators have an opportunity to take the lead in the series for the first time with a win against the Sharks. It would be their first postseason victory ever in San Jose and would also give them three wins in a row for the first time in these playoffs.
“Both teams are in the same situation, and for us, we can use it as some confidence and some energy going into tonight knowing that we came off a huge win,” Johansen said. “It’s important to leave that behind us now; triple overtime doesn’t happen every night, so it was a very exciting night, but it’s just a 2-2 series now. It doesn’t mean anything, so it’s very important for us to just refocus and really try and execute our game plan to the best of our abilities again and have that focus for a good start.”
After dropping the first two of this series in San Jose, the Preds would prefer to end that losing trend in the Shark Tank. Plus, it doesn’t take a mathematician to realize if the club is going to advance any further, they’ll need to find a way to beat the Sharks in Silicon Valley.
“We knew they’re going to be fired up, so we’re just approaching it tonight as if we have to have our best, because we’re going to see their best,” Fisher said. “Momentum or not, I don’t think it’s going to matter tonight. It’s who’s going to be ready to play, and this is huge.”