Nashville Has 2-0 Series Lead for Second Consecutive Season
by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator
Just about 365 days ago, the Predators were in this exact spot. Well, sort of similar.
The count in the series is the same – a 2-0 advantage for the second time in as many first rounds to begin the postseason, certainly an ideal situation to start.
But the similarities end there. Last year, the Preds stormed into Chicago and shut out the Blackhawks in Games 1 and 2, defeating their opponent by a combined 6-0 score before returning home to complete the first series sweep in franchise history. This time around, Nashville made use of their home-ice advantage to collect a pair of victories over the Colorado Avalanche, scoring 10 goals over two games while allowing six.
In 2017 the Preds got their hot start on the road and returned home to an energized crowd that helped them topple the Blackhawks. Now, Nashville must enter a hostile environment to face a team that has kept it close with the Predators thus far.
A 2-0 series lead is nice, but the Preds aren’t about to start looking at the possibly of a sweep, nor are they considering complacency.
“The minute you start to feel good or think things are going your way, that’s usually when you get beat,” Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said Sunday prior to departing for Colorado. “Part of it is just recognizing it’s not that you can’t win and you can’t be successful, but you’ve got to understand where your opponent is at, got to understand where we need to be at tomorrow night. If we can recognize those things, then we can find success.”
Josi, Ekholm, Turris, Arvidsson
15:03 • 3:23 PM
If the Avalanche weren’t playing desperate through the first two outings already, they’ll undoubtedly be doing so on Monday at Pepsi Center as they try to cut Nashville’s advantage in half. And if there’s one thing that sticks out to the Preds two games into the series, it’s the speed of their opponent.
“They’re really fast team,” Preds defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. “They compete hard. They’re not here to learn, they’re here to win and you can really tell.”
The series against Chicago last spring could have easily turned in Game 3, with the Predators needing overtime to prevail and take a stranglehold. The experiences gained then are likely to be utilized now, knowing the challenges will only become more difficult from this juncture.
“Just realizing how big Game 3 is [will be key],” Preds Captain Roman Josi said. “Those first two games were really tight and really competitive. We’re definitely in a good spot winning the two home games, but we know they’re going to play better in Game 3 at home. Just from last year against Chicago, we won that game in OT and it was a huge game for us. It’s going to be no different tomorrow night.”
Something else that’s been reiterated through the first two outings? Colorado is an impressive club. If anything, having a 2-0 lead has only forced the Predators to focus even further on finding ways to defeat the Avalanche as efficiently as possible.
There’s always room for improvement, and this instance is no different. But still, the Predators are up two games to none with a chance to make it three in due time.
“It’s still a nice feeling knowing you haven’t been on top of your game, but you’ve still gotten two wins,” Ekholm said. “It speaks a lot about or team, but we know we can be better as well.”