Before the series began, it was not far-fetched to believe the Nashville Predators would enter Game 5 trailing 3-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks. Nashville entered the postseason having lost six straight since clinching a playoff spot and has been 17-15-5 since the all-star break.
Simply, the Predators showed no promise of a deep Stanley Cup run.
However, during those three days between the final regular season game and Game 1, Nashville hit another gear as promised by the team.
With the exception of the second period in Game 1 and the third period in Game 3, the Predators have played well.
Games 1 and 4 required double and triple overtime, respectively. Game 4, which lasted exactly 101 minutes and ended at 1:16 am CST, was the longest game in Predators’ history. Nashville disappointingly did not come out victorious in either game. If the hockey gods assisted the Preds with a few bounces in Games 1 and 4, they would lead the series 3-1.
They aren’t though, and the Predators are a loss away from having a potentially historical season come to an end.
But do not forget: this is a best-of-seven series. Chicago has not advanced yet.
Of 276 teams to trail a series 3-1, 27 have mounted the improbable comeback. It happened twice in 2014 when the Los Angeles Kings defeated the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals and the New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Interestingly enough, Los Angeles and New York met later in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Nashville has been in 3-1 series deficit situations four previous times and have been unable to come back in either of them. The San Jose Sharks bested the Predators in five games in the first round in 2006 and 2007, the Vancouver Canucks advanced in six games in the second round in 2012 and the Phoenix Coyotes won in five games in the second round in 2013.
Winning three straight games is no easy task, especially in the playoffs, but for what it’s worth, Nashville has six three-game winning streaks this season. Meanwhile, Chicago has dropped three straight only twice.
Below are reasons Nashville can win in seven games.
Laviolette Has Been Here Before
Nashville head coach Peter Laviolette has coached teams in 3-1 deficits three times. The only time he successfully won the series was with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 when trailing 3-0 to the Boston Bruins. The other two times amounted to Game 5 losses with the New York Islanders against the Ottawa Senators in 2003 and with Philadelphia against the New Jersey Devils in 2012.
Following the triple overtime loss, Laviolette told CSNChicago.com after Game 4: “Eventually the sun will come up tomorrow. Our guys are resilient. They will not cave. And they will not go away quietly. So they’ll be ready to play Game 5, I promise you.”
If that does not give you a slight slimmer of hope, I do not know what will.
Rinne Is Back In Form
Game 4 became the Pekka Rinne show after making beautiful save after beautiful save. The best save of the night was a one-timer from Brandon Saad to Marian Hossa in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime. Rinne allowed just three goals on 48 shots in the loss.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is how the Blackhawks have learned where to score on Rinne — high blocker side. It will be up to Nashville’s defensemen to take away Chicago’s trademark drop pass, which gives the shooters time to pick their corner, and Rinne, himself, to adjust.
Fisher Is Close To Being Healthy
Though it is becoming more likely that Shea Weber and Eric Nystrom, who are both suffering lower-body injuries and did not travel with the team for Games 3 and 4 in Chicago, will not return this series, a bright spot is the imminent return of Mike Fisher (lower-body injury). Fisher, considered “day-to-day,” has been practicing with the team. With Nashville facing elimination, Fisher may bite the bullet and play through whatever pain he is suffering.
Fisher left Game 1 after his first shift in the second period.
His return would strengthen Nashville’s center depth in efforts to shut down Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who is tied for the team lead in points with 2 goals and 3 assists.
Game 5: Chicago @ Nashville – Thursday, April 23 at 8:30 pm CST
*Game 6: Nashville @ Chicago – Saturday, April 25 at TBD
*Game 7: Chicago @ Nashville – Monday, April 27 at TBD
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