NASHVILLE — The numbers don’t lie. At least that’s how Predators coach Peter Laviolette looks at it.
“I checked again this morning and it’s 3-1 Chicago,” he said of the Blackhawks’ lead in this first-round series. “I wish it said something different but it doesn’t, and that’s the bottom line.”
To judge the series solely on looking at that number and not the games, it would seem lopsided. But this series has been close, with two games going into multiple overtimes to be decided. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks are still on the cusp of eliminating the Predators tonight, when they face them in Game 5 tonight here at Bridgestone Arena. And the Blackhawks would rather get this series done sooner than later.
“You never want to play an extra shift, an extra game in the playoffs if you can avoid it,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. “We know we’ll have a dangerous opponent tonight. This building will be loud, they’ll be hungry and they’re going to come at us. We expect this challenge to be our toughest. Let’s try to quiet the crowd as quickly as we can but expect a real hungry opponent. Let’s go one period at a time and leave it out there tonight.”
This series, thanks in part to those aforementioned overtime games, has been grueling through the first four games. A few days of rest would be very beneficial for the Blackhawks, knowing, if they advance, their next opponent will be either St. Louis or Minnesota. The Blues trounced the Wild on Wednesday night, evening that series at 2-2.
The Predators have been good in this series and it hasn’t been enough. Tonight, they need to be even better.
“You can’t get to the second round by playing well; you have to win hockey games,” Laviolette said. “Over the course of any game, whether you’re playing well or not, there are always things you can do better. Whether pushing, getting one more scoring chance, getting on the power play, whatever it may be, we talk about trying to get better. That’s all you can do.”
— Predators forward Mike Fisher skated this morning but Colin Wilson did not. Laviolette wouldn’t divulge anyone’s playing status, however. That included defenseman Shea Weber (lower body), who was injured in Game 2 and did not skate this morning.
— Quenneville said he was “likely” going with the same lineup as in Game 4. The Blackhawks had an optional skate this morning.
— Scott Darling will start tonight for the Blackhawks. Pekka Rinne will be in for the Predators.