Friday, May 4, 2012

Nashville will try to hold serve at home tonight

The Nashville Predators will take on the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals at 6:30 p.m. CT tonight at Bridgestone Arena. Phoenix holds a 2-1 series lead and will be looking to put a stranglehold on the Predators tonight with a win.

With Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn being held out of the lineup in Game 3, players like Matt Halischuk and Jordin Tootoo found their way back into the Nashville lineup. Whether or not the lineup will change for tonight's Game 4 is uncertain, but the players who were back in the lineup on Wednesday night after not playing for a while were excited to contribute again.

"It's exciting to get back in, and we're just trying to do whatever we can to help the team win," Halischuk said.

Nashville showed a lot of resolve on Wednesday night, and they will have to do the same thing tonight. The Predators have had to deal with the off-ice distractions that come with the situation regarding Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn, which seems to have brought them closer as a team.

"We have moved forward and we've stuck together as a team. Hopefully in the long run that will make us better and stronger. That's all behind us now, so we're just looking forward," Halischuk said.

Nashville was obviously much better defensively in Game 3 than they were in the first two games in Phoenix. Pekka Rinne recorded his first career postseason shutout on Wednesday night, and the Predators will look for the same type of result tonight. It seemed like Nashville's overall effort was a lot better in Game 3 than it had been in the first two games.

"Maybe just a little bit more detail than we had in the past two and just having more support. Five-man units working together. That's pretty much the main thing," Halischuk said.

With a win tonight, the Predators will even the series. With a loss, the Coyotes will take a commanding 3-1 series lead back to Phoenix with a chance to close it out on Monday night.

My player to watch for the Coyotes is Shane Doan. Phoenix's Captain will have to lead by example in tonight's game. The Coyotes have a big opportunity to really take control of the series with a win tonight. Doan will need to be a pivotal factor in the game if they are going to be able to do that.

For Nashville, my player to watch is Sergei Kostitsyn. On Wednesday night, Sergei Kostisyn had an effective game for the Predators. Nashville's top line of Sergei Kostisyn, Mike Fisher and Martin Erat haven't been as offensively consistent so far in the playoffs like they were in the regular season. Wednesday night's game could be the beginning of an offensive awakening by those players.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)