Game one is in the history books and it's time to move on to tonight's game two between the Nashville Predators (1-0) and the Anaheim Ducks (0-1) at the Honda Center formally known as the Duck Pond.
One thing for Predator fans to keep in mind is that things are never as good or bad as they seem at a given time. That is another way of saying one of Barry Trotz's mantras that the team needs to have a "short memory," win or lose.
The Predators played a near perfect game on Wednesday with the exception of a few sloppy turn overs and a potential lack of discipline when being baited by the always chippy Ducks.
Little can be done about the dirty play of the Ducks other than trying not to get sucked into unnecessary penalties that give the Duck's number two ranked power play many opportunities.
The Preds walk a fine line between being taking up for themselves and crossing the line where they become the aggressors. We saw a bit of that in the first game when Kevin Klein went off on Corey Perry when the agitating scoring machine was running his mouth in everyone's face all night long.
The first game was a bruising affair with the Ducks thug line of Brookbank and Winchester rattling bones every chance they got. Sergei Kostitsyn seemed to take the brunt of the bruising but Jordin Tootoo was also brutalized behind the net and the Ducks received little penalty for their indiscretions.
Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle found little to like in reviewing the tapes of game one. The players seemed equally disappointed. If you hear the Ducks side of the story, they played a poor game. From the Preds faithful, it was one of the best playoff games ever. It is all a matter of perspective.
The Ducks situation in goal remains unsettled. Dan Ellis looked like a sieve in game one and Ray Emery says he's ready to go. Jonas Hiller is still dizzy. Coach Carlyle says he's going to wait and see and make a decision later today. My bet is that Emery starts game two.
As I predicted, Mike Fisher and Shane O'Brien were the difference makers in game one along with the impeccable Pekka Rinne. They will need to continue their level of play going forward but other members of Preds will need to step up and contribute offensively.
Game two may be the most critical game the Preds have played since last Friday (they are all critical really) when they needed to win to clinch a playoff spot. If the Preds could go up 2-0 on the road and head to the Bridgestone Arena, their playoff run would most likely head to the conference semifinals at some point. A loss and they are back to square one.
Here are my three Keys to the Game...
1- Discipline - The Ducks will try to draw the Preds into penalties to put their power play on the ice. The Preds need to resist the temptation to retaliate and draw the penalties themselves.
2- Score first and often - Getting the first goal, especially on the road, is a huge advantage. The Preds need to come out with jump once again and not let the Ducks take control at the start like they did in game one. It wasn't until the power play thee minutes into game one that he Preds stabilized the situation.
3 - Play sixty minutes - In game one the Preds had their best start to finish effort in some time. They need that again whether they are ahead or behind. If they can focus for the entire game they should go back to Nashville with a 2-0 series lead.
After the game, the Preds will spend the night on the coast and head back to Nashville on Saturday morning to prepare for game three on Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Bridgestone Arena.
Other Predator Previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Robby Stanley, Marc Torrence, Josh Cooper, The Tennessean, and Predators.com.
David Boclair looks at Game two being critical for the Preds success with a comparison to last season.
Previews from the Southland come from from The OC Register, Long Beach Press Telegram, L A Times, Ducks Blog, Quackalakin', Anaheim Calling, Battle of California, Ducks and Cover, Ducks Daily Blog, and Ducks and Pucks.
Buddy Oales for PredsOnTheGlass