Monday, April 26, 2010
Predators try to pick themselves up
By Jesse Rogers
Brent Sopel has impressed Predators coach Barry Trotz with his play on the penalty kill.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Do the Chicago Blackhawks have the mental edge going into their first elimination game of the 2010 playoffs?
Common sense would say yes, but there’s nothing common about the Nashville Predators. A statistically average team, the Predators amassed 100 points this season and were 14 seconds away from a 3-2 series lead of their own. Now, they have to build their confidence back up after a devastating loss in Game 5.
"Think about the lowest place you can think of, we were there," coach Barry Trotz said after Monday morning's practice. "This team is going to get up off the floor. We were at ground zero. That one is a stinger but at the same time there are two things [options]. You can just lie there and feel sorry or you can get up, get off the floor and be [ticked] off. And be determined."
Trotz believes his team will do the latter which means the Hawks need to be ready.
"Nothing changes, really, for both teams in an elimination game," Patrick Sharp said after the Hawks' morning skate. "They're going to come out with a great effort as they have all series long. Really no surprises for both sides."
Last postseason the Hawks were able to close out the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks in Game 6. One was on the road and one at home. So can they draw on those experiences?
"Yes and no," Sharp said. "You can take satisfaction that we won two series in Game 6, but that means nothing going into [Monday night's] game. Nashville plays well in this building. It's very tough to play in here, so we definitely have to have our best game if we want to close this series out."
Trotz is hoping for a power-play goal. It has been well documented the Predators are 0-21 in the series and Hawks penalty killers have stolen the spotlight from the offensive stars on the team. Trotz wouldn’t mind seeing Brent Sopel somewhere other than the ice during a Predators' power play.
"If I could pluck one guy off, I’d pluck him off," Trotz. "He's done an excellent job."
Trotz talked extensively about making changes with the man advantage.
"We have a plan of doing a couple things different," he said. "Not going to go into it now, but ... we’ve gotten stubborn … We’re trying to force things that aren’t there."
Having had his own power-play troubles throughout the season, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville knows changes are coming for Nashville.
"You're always looking between games or in games for that matter that they may have a different look," Quenneville said. "It's all part of it. Adjusting to what's coming."
Quenneville wants the Hawks to have the mindset that they are the team down a game and facing elimination.
"We want to look at it as a must win for us, and play accordingly," Quenneville said. "We want to make sure the momentum we exited Game 5 with, we put to good use here early in the game."
Jonathan Toews and Sopel did not participate in the Hawks' morning skate. It's not unusual for Sopel to sit out considering all the punishment he takes blocking shots. Toews usually practices, but may have taken the morning off after taking a major hit in Game 5. Toews didn’t miss a shift but was clearly shaken up on the ice. Quenneville said both players will play in Game 6.