Preds need to maintain composure in Game Three

Nashville, TN, United States / The Game Nashville
Preds need to maintain composure in Game Three

A wise man once said, “Moderation in all things.”

In that particular moment, the above utterance was used with a heavy dose of sarcasm to describe a night that would no doubt be filled with an exorbitant amount of alcoholic beverages. But, in tonight’s third game of the Western Conference first-round playoff series between the Nashville Predators and the Anaheim Ducks, moderation may very well be the deciding factor.

Nashville stole the first two road contests on the Ducks’ home ice and now currently possesses their only 2-0 playoff series lead in franchise history. They return tonight to Bridgestone Arena with an opportunity to bury this year’s Pacific Division winners.

The Ducks, however, may not need any assistance in digging their own grave. Their behavior after the whistle in the first two match-ups has been a major hindrance.

“We don’t deserve a break if we’re going to yell (at the referees) and be stupid all night long,” said the visibly frustrated Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau following his team’s 3-2 defeat in Game Two at the Honda Center. “Controlled emotion was one of our keys.”

The Ducks have been far from controlled in the 2015-16 season, leading the league in penalties with 396. The Predators have maintained composure throughout the series despite the antagonistic Anaheim.

Well, for the most part. Forward James Neal let his own frustrations be known in the second period of Game Two when he look a small swipe at the face mask of the opposition’s goal tender, John Gibson. All in good fun though, right?

“We played a heck of a road game,” Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm said of their victory this past Sunday. “It’s not always pretty, but we’re always battling hard. We kept calm through the whole game and didn’t give them much. There was a scrum after almost every whistle, but we stayed calm. We didn’t try to hit them back.”

Regardless of their apparent lack of discipline, the Ducks were one of the NHL’s hottest teams in the second half, taking 29 of their final 41 games. They know how to take advantage of Power Plays scoring on 23% of those opportunities in the regular season, the highest in the League. They have been defined by their ability to bounce back this year.

“The one thing about this team is our resiliency,” Boudreau said. “This team has been through some really tough times this year, so this is no different right now. It was just two years ago that we lost the first two games at home against LA and went in there and won two, so it’s not an impossible thing to do.”

Now, Anaheim comes to Smashville down 0-2 in the series cornered like frightened animals with near-hopeless odds; that is when the Ducks will be at their most dangerous.

And, while the Predators faithful will be indulging in the free-for-all from behind the glass, the team must remember that age-old adage.

“Moderation in all things.”

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