One message from the Predators locker room after today’s morning skate is that they want a fast start in tonight’s Game Five against Detroit. The Predators hold a 3-1 series lead and have a chance to close out the series tonight, but they know they’ll be getting Detroit’s best effort.
“It’s really exciting; it’s in our hands,” Pekka Rinne said. “You don’t want to let that feeling get in your head too much. We realize the opportunity we have here, but at the same time it’s going to be a battle. I’m sure it’s going to be the hardest game of the series.”
A fast start is important two reasons: One, the team that has scored first has won each of the first four games of the series. Secondly, Bridgestone Arena will be full of energy from the onset. The Predators can’t let the Red Wings take the crowd out of it early, like they did in Game Two.
“We want to come real strong to start and make sure we’re feeding off the crowd, give them lots to cheer about and bring the energy up and feed off that,” said Mike Fisher.
Some may say the Predators don’t have a desperation factor in this game because of their two-game series lead. The team doesn’t have that mindset. In fact, Rinne says he almost has a Game Seven-type approach for tonight because they want to wrap it up and not worry about going back to Detroit on Sunday.
“You have to have that mindset going into the game, and be willing to do whatever it takes and that kind of mentality,” he said. “Everybody realizes we have an opportunity to close it out right now.”
The Predators, including head coach Barry Trotz, expect the atmosphere in the arena to be at its best tonight.
“I remember in our first series back when we played Detroit the first time,” Trotz recalled, “it was a Sunday afternoon and one of the TV executives told us later that it was the loudest venue he’s ever been in because he was so upset that the cameras were shaking. He was trying to get his cameraman to [stop it] and they couldn’t do anything because the building was actually shaking. He said he’s never seen that and he’s covered all the major sporting events in the world, and that was the first time a building was actually tremoring.
“He wasn’t happy for the broadcast, but at the same time he was very impressed.”
If the Predators wish to close out the series tonight, they will likely have to do it without defenseman Hal Gill. Moments after Gill said he was a game-time decision, Trotz said he doesn’t expect him to play. Playoff mind games? We’ll see.