The Nashville Predators host the Detroit Red Wings tonight in game one of the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals. If Nashville is going to advance past the first round for the second consecutive season they are going to have to take their game to another level.
I have pinpointed five keys to delivering a knock out blow to the playoff savvy Red Wings.
- Nashville earned the right to play host in the opening round by virtue of three consecutive wins to end the season. They must use that to their advantage. The Red Wings were 31-7-3 at Joe Louis Arena and only 17-21-3 on the road. If they grab and early lead at home, the crowd will get loud and that works in their favor.
- Nashville has a slight advantage in net, use it. Pekka Rinne was a Vezina finalist a season ago, and followed that up with a franchise record 43 wins including an 11-game winning streak earlier in the year. Rinne is 11-5-3 against the Red Wings in his career with four shutouts. If he gets hot Nashville could ride him all the way to the Finals.
- Alexander Radulov must be the player that won two KHL championships. He came back to the NHL to score goals and win a Stanley Cup. This is his chance to endear himself to Predators fans for life after seemingly abandoning them for three seasons.
- Don’t believe the hype. The atmosphere in Detroit for a playoff game can intimidate teams. Nashville has to forget about losing in the playoffs to Detroit in 2004 and 2008. Basically they need to develop hockey amnesia and forget about the past. They are a better and more complete this time – the Wings are still good but older. If they keep in simple in Detroit than can at least split there.
- Win the first game. Obviously every game is important but the first game is crucial. The team that wins game one of the quarterfinals, wins the series nearly 70% of the time.
Check out Five Ways The Red Wings Can Beat The Nashville Predators by Daniel Gustkey
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