After today's morning skate, Predators' coach Barry Trotz said "Our backs are a little bit against the wall." Never one to exaggerate the situation, that is about as much desperation as you will every get from the even-keeled coach. Hopefully, the team will play with more desperation than that when the puck drops at 7 p.m. CDT on Versus tonight.
Trotz is clear about how the Predators have to play this game. Down 3-1, he said, "I look at the task and everyone is saying three wins. The task is not three, the task is one. If we don't get one, the rest doesn't matter."
Proof of that statement is the Predators history in elimination games where they are 0-5 in their five prior playoff runs. More gruesome is the fact that they have been outscored 15-6 and shut out on two occasions.Those teams never got the one that Trotz wants tonight.
With Jerred Smithson not available due to his "upper body" injury. J.P. Dumont will be added to the lineup to hopefully bring a little magic.Dumont played two games in the series against Anaheim when Marty Erat was out and had an assist.
A huge emphasis has be made of Ryan Kesler carrying the Canucks on his back. Trotz explained what the Preds need to do, "It's all hands on deck. We have some very special people, I think we have three very special people and then we've got some complementary players that are good players. We might have to do it from the back end a little more. It might be Pekka doing what he did in Vancouver again."
In a very odd question to Pekka Rinne after game four, a reporter asked him if the Predators had someone who could put the team on his back and carry them like Kesler had the Canucks in the prior two games. Rinne was the gentleman that he always is and did not ask the guy how much more he could carry the team.
Instead Rinne said, "I could have stopped that shot (Kesler's). Either way, it's always the same after the game, but I think we are showing a lot of character playing tight games against these guys. They have a great team but we just need that one extra gear in our locker room and bounce back.
From a financial standpoint, a win tonight could mean as much as $1,500,000 to the Predators organization which is the estimated value of each play off home game. A game six in Nashville on Monday (7 p.m. CDT) would be the Predators sixth playoff game of the year and could go a long way in re-signing players that are critical to the team's success.
The keys to a Predator win tonight include:
1. Score early and keep the lead to take the momentum away from the Canucks and the crowd.
2. Play every play like the game could turn on it. Twenty guys need to play 100% every shift.
3. Play to have fun. It is hockey in May and like Trotz said last week, "If you are playing hockey in May, you are a winner."
Other Previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Chris Burton, and Paul McCann.
For previews from Vancouver, check out the media links in the right column.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass