WELCOME TO GAME DAY - Round 1, Game 4
|Pekka Rinne can be beaten, as Pavel Datsyuk showed during Sunday's Game 3. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)|
Like any good movie, it takes time to build context into the story, to set everything up for its thrilling, climactic conclusion.
The same thing exists for a best-of-seven playoff series.
Rarely, do you see a scene like you did in Philadelphia on Sunday. Then again, the Flyers and Penguins met in the final game of the regular season. The natural rivalry between the Keystone State rivals has existed for generations. And when one team is down 2-0 in the series headed to hostile territory, desperation can and will creep in.
That’s the exception. The rule is what we’ve seen between the Red Wings and Predators, a series that all of the pundits agreed that six games was the bare minimum, with the difference between victory and defeat being a bounce here and a bounce there. Not too many of these so-called experts thought home ice would matter, especially with Detroit’s veteran laden club, nor has it with two of the first three games being won by the road team.
“You have two evenly matched teams,” Jimmy Howard said following Monday’s practice. “You knew it was going to be tight and that whatever team stuck to their systems the best would be in a good position.”
Now it gets interesting.
Sure, the whole Henrik Zetterberg-Shea Weber thing was an intriguing appetizer, but it has little to do with the final plot. Instead, it is the fact that all three games have been decided by one goal, even with the Red Wings controlling much of the play throughout the series. That couldn’t have been more apparent on Sunday, when Detroit outshot Nashville 43-22, leaving the Predators on their heels for much of the last 25 minutes of play.
And that leads us to this story’s antagonist (at least to us) in Pekka Rinne, the last line of defense and keeper of the gate for Nashville. Rinne has stymied Detroit, not just in the last three games, but also throughout much of his career. If this were chess, the Red Wings would have a queen, two rooks, a bishop and a knight, but unable to make the right moves to create checkmate.
He is the challenge, the mountain, the primary obstacle between our group of heroes and their ultimate goal. Now, can they find a hole in his shield?
“Our job is to create chances and be a little bit annoying to play against,” Cory Emmerton said on Sunday. “I thought we did a pretty good job of that in Game 3, but we just have to build off of it.”
How do you do that?
“I think the biggest thing is to get the first goal,” said Kyle Quincey. “We got the first goal in Game 2 and we were okay there, so I think that’s a huge thing for us.”
Getting the first goal won’t just get the Wings on the board, but awaken the building, establish momentum and eventually, if all goes well, lead to a series-tying victory.
The next chapter is waiting to be written. Which star will emerge as a legend tonight?
- Nashville took a 2-1 lead on Sunday, but did you know that it was their first playoff victory at Joe Louis Arena? The Predators had been 0-6 in two previous playoff appearances.
- The Red Wings fired 19 shots on goal in the third period, surpassing their shot total in all of Game 2 (17). Henrik Zetterberg led Detroit with nine shots on net.
- The Red Wings last 10 playoff losses have all been by one goal. This streak dates back to a 5-2 loss on April 25, 2010 to the Phoenix Coyotes.
- Tonight marks the 71th consecutive sellout at Joe Louis Arena, a streak dating back to December 19, 2010. The Red Wings were 31-7-3 on home ice this season. Nashville was 22-16-3 on the road.
The Red Wings shook things up in practice on Monday, pairing Nick Lidstrom with Ian White, while Jonathan Ericsson was skating alongside Kyle Quincey. This could be seen as an offensive move, seeing that Ian White was the team’s plus-minus leader during the first few months of the season while paired with the captain.
Gustav Nyquist also continued to show his flexibility, seeing time with Justin Abdelkader and Todd Bertuzzi, in addition to with Tomas Holmstrom and Cory Emmerton on the fourth line.
10:30 AM – The Red Wings skate at Joe Louis Arena
11:30 AM – The Predators skate at Joe Louis Arena
6:00 PM – Doors Open
7:30 PM – JLA Pregame Show
Immediately Following – Game 4 on FOX Sports Detroit, NBC Sports Network, CBC, RDS2 and 97.1 The Ticket.
Hal Gill took part in Nashvile’s Monday practice at Joe Louis Arena and is still considered day-to-day with a lower body injury. He is expected to be a game-time decision after missing the first three games of the series.
Darren Helm will miss the remainder of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs after surgery to repair lacerated tendons in his right forearm.
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Following the success of last year’s decorated stairs celebrating 20 consecutive years of playoff appearances, Joe Louis Arena will once again be decked out for the big occasion. Vinyl photographs of the Wings’ Stanley Cup championship banners and former Stanley Cup celebrations will don the East Gate, West Gate and box office doors.
Thanks to AT&T for providing today’s car flag giveaway. All fans attending Game 4 can find these on their seats upon entering the building.
Twitter handles for some pretty important people.
@DetroitRedWings – The team’s official account
@CEmmer48 – Cory Emmerton
@GNyquist – Gustav Nyquist
@RSheahan4 – Riley Sheahan