You’ve been reading quite a bit about the upcoming Blackhawks vs. Predators playoff series from very biased ‘Hawks coverage. To even things out, I decided to get another point of view.
John Glennon is The Tennessean’s Nashville Predators beat writer. Glennon was gracious enough to answer a few questions regarding the series before he hops a plane Thursday to Chicago.
Bartl: Here in Chicago, I feel like there is more focus on Patrick Kane’s playoff mullet than the actual series. No one seems to be worried about the Blackhawks beating the Predators, as most feel a ‘Hawks victory is already etched in stone. What is the mood surrounding Nashville in preparation for Friday and the series in general?
Glennon: I think the fans are first of all excited about seeing somebody new, after losing twice to both Detroit and San Jose in the previous four appearances. As far as the series itself, I think most fans understand that the Predators are a decided underdog – after losing the series 4-2 to Chicago and after seeing the Blackhawks pile up the second-most goals in the Western Conference. But at the same time, there are some reasons to feel better about the Preds’ chances of advancing than in the past. They’re finally close to healthy going into the postseason, which has never really been the case. And the teams is 14-0-1 in its last 15 one-goal games, which is a good indication that the Preds have done well under pressure.
Bartl: You wrote today about Nashville being a one-and-done in its last four playoff appearances. Fill in the blank: The Predators must ______ in order to beat the Blackhawks to end the playoff drought. Elaborate as much as you need to on why that is so important.
Glennon: “keep Chicago’s offense under control’’ … The Predators’ strengths are in goal, where Pekka Rinne has been excellent since the Olympic break, and on defense. This is not a team that’s going to win many run-and-gun style shootouts. Chicago has a lot more firepower than the Predators do, but if the Preds can keep games close and keep the Blackhawks from scoring on the power play, Nashville could have a chance to make things interesting.
Bartl: What is going to be the most difficult aspect of the Blackhawks style of play for Nashville to contain, and do you feel the Predators are up to the task?
Glennon: In terms of containment, the Preds will have all they can handle with three Chicago lines that can ring up points. But Nashville will also be challenged offensively. The Preds only managed 12 goals in six games against the ‘Hawks this season, and Chicago absolutely shackled the Preds top-scoring forwards with the exception of Martin Erat (four goals, five games). The Preds will have to find a way to get rid of a very sticky Chicago defense and put some pressure on Antti Niemi.
Bartl: Finally, what is your prediction for this series and why?
Glennon: I’m going to go with the Blackhawks in six. Pekka Rinne will steal at least one game, and the Predators should keep matters close enough to grab another victory. But in the end, I think Chicago’s speed and firepower will be too much.