NASHVILLE — If there’s one thing we should’ve learned by now, it’s that momentum doesn’t exist game to game in the playoffs
Recall the second round when the Washington Capitals seemed to have taken control of their series with Pittsburgh, only for the Penguins to come up with their best effort in Game 7 at Verizon Center.
That same round, the Oilers smoked the Ducks, 7-1, to force a seventh game, after which Edmonton coach Todd McLellan warned: “Momentum reestablishes itself in every game. There is no carryover.”
The Oilers then lost Game 7 in Anaheim.
Which brings us to the Stanley Cup Final. Some will say the Penguins have the momentum going into Sunday’s Game 6 at Bridgestone Arena. After all, the defending champs blasted Nashville, 6-0, in Game 5. How can the Predators recover from that?
That was essentially the question for Preds head coach Peter Laviolette.
“You know, the thing about the playoffs, if we win Games 3 and 4, then for sure we’re going to win Game 5, right?” said Laviolette. “And it just doesn’t work that way in the playoffs. You know, every game is its own chapter. It’s its own slice of the pie, and you’ve got to go out and fight for that slice every day and be ready to write that chapter. Last chapter doesn’t have anything to do with it.”
To stay alive, the Preds will need to reestablish the forecheck that was so effective the first four games of the series. In Game 5, the Penguins’ defense was able to move the puck a lot faster, with fewer turnovers and regroups.
It showed in the result.
“If we can get our forwards the puck early in shifts when they got a lot of energy and before they have to stop and play defense, they’re some of the best forwards in the world,” said Pittsburgh d-man Ron Hainsey, per the Associated Press. “They can make some stuff happen out there.”
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Back in Music City, the crowd should help the Preds find the energy to win more races and battles.
Desperation should help, too.
“We don’t like the way we played (in Game 5),” said Laviolette. “We’re all ready to own that. We’re ready to admit that, and we’re ready to move forward from it.”