Sunday, April 29, 2012

Three keys to a Preds victory in Game 2

The Nashville Predators will try to even the series tonight in Glendale when they take on the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinals matchup. Phoenix was able to get a 4-3 overtime victory over the Predators in Game 1 of the series on Friday night.

If the Predators are able to win Game 2 tonight, they will steal home ice advantage away from the Coyotes. In order to do that, the Predators will have to improve in a few areas that plagued them on Friday night in their Game 1 loss. Here are three areas that the Predators will have to improve on tonight if they hope to win:

1. Fast Start

In Game 1, the Predators didn't seem to fully get in the swing of things until the third period. Both teams seemed like they were feeling each other out through the first period of Game 1, and the Predators weren't able to capitalize on a few early chances that could've been the difference later in the game. Nashville was able to really dominate the third period and the overtime period despite losing the game. They will look to build off of that coming into Game 2 tonight.

2. Screen Mike Smith

Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith is playing as good as any goalie in the playoffs. If he sees the puck, he's going to make the save. Nashville didn't have enough people going to the front of the net on Friday night, and it made Smith's job a little easier. On Friday night, the Predators were able to tie the game in the third period because Patric Hornqvist was screening Smith. Smith wasn't able to fully corral the original shot by Ryan Suter from the point because of Hornqvist's screen, and Martin Erat was there to put in the rebound. Nashville is going to have to put bodies in front of the net if they want to consistently score on the Coyotes.

3. Win Faceoffs

Faceoffs have probably been the most discussed topic in PredNation over the past 48 hours. The Predators simply didn't win the key faceoffs in Game 1, and it cost them in overtime when Ray Whitney scored the game-winning goal for the Coyotes right off of a faceoff won by Martin Hanzal. Mike Fisher and David Legwand will have to be better in that area for the Predators tonight.

The puck drops at 7 p.m. central time on the NBC Sports Network.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)