Tom and Stu Preview Tonight's Game From Calgary
Tom's three keys to tonight's game against Calgary:
Scoring First. Nashville is a solid 10-0-5 when notching the first goal of the game. This speaks to Nashville's ability to play with the lead and make other teams press, but also shows that the Predators can force mistakes when another team pushes hard and put them right back in the net. Calgary is a team with fragile confidence and Nashville can go a long way towards shattering that by scoring the first goal of the game.
Rebound. Not only from a tough loss last night in which the Predators started to right the ship in the third period, but those loose pucks in front of the net. Get to those. Get in what Barry Trotz calls the "hard areas" and do some damage!
Play Smart. Not only does Calgary possess the league's 10th-best power play unit, but it's even better at home at 21.7% good for 7th league wide. Don't let the crowd into the game, and most importantly don't make those defensive players work harder minutes to kill penalties or you can easily wear down in the second half of a back to back.
Stu's three keys to tonight's game against Calgary:
Isolate skilled forwards. The Flames have a handful of point a game forwards who can hurt you if given the time and space. Iginla, Tanguay, Cammalleri and Stempniak. The Predators did a sound job of holding several similarly talented Dallas Stars forwards off the sheet by playing that very way at the start of this road trip. Jaromir Jagr was mostly silent the entire game. Getting a win in Calgary's Saddledome will require that the Preds hound the opposition when it possesses the puck. Turnovers and bad decisions result when the other side is under constant pressure. See Spaling and Halischuk for a working example of the way this is done effectively.
The Start. Calgary can be a rough building to play in if the Flames are on their game early – they're looking for their sixth straight home victory of 2012–13. I used to find it fairly demeaning when the red team got one early and that stinking blowtorch on top of the Jumbotron lit up so hot it almost singed your eyebrows. Starting well and setting the tempo of this one will go a long ways towards the Preds getting the result they want. Playing to a draw or better after the opening period benefits the road team. And hey, the good guys are 8-0-5 when scoring first!
Goaltending. Last night in Vancouver, it did not go the way that Pekka Rinne and the Preds mapped it out. A change in net was in order. The good news about that is that Rinne is a bounce-back goaltender. He'll get the start tonight; plan on him turning in a solid outing. Success depends on it.