Smashville. It’s time to SMASH that panic button. Because 2 games into this Stanley Cup Final and you’re in a 0-2 hole.
Two games into this matchup with the Pens, Pittsburgh is showing you that getting here is one thing, getting it done is another.
Because it takes 60 good minutes — AT LEAST — to win a playoff hockey game. And after finding a way to lose Game 1 after out-shooting, out-playing and out-skating the Penguins in the opener, the Preds did the same thing in Game 2 – taking the fight to the defending champs. But with the score knotted at 1-1, with the Zamboni in the garage and 20 minutes to go in a game that wasn’t technically Must-Win, but sure as hell was close, the Pens came out of the dressing room and put three in the Preds chest — a 3-goal flurry that sent Pekka Rinne to the bench and the Preds home to Nashville without a win.
So that heater that the Preds rode in on — it’s on ice. That crazy Mojo that Nashville was riding, never trailing a game in any series this playoffs, it’s gone. And a Nashville team that didn’t let the growing body count or their 8 seed get in the way of a dominant run of hockey; they’re finding out that the Champs are a different cat. That the Stanley Cup final is a different beast. And the Penguins have Pekka Rinne’s pink slip in their pocket.
Because that brick wall between the pipes that already had the engraver spell-checking the Conn Smythe has turned into some bar-leaguer who gave up 4 on 11 shots in Game 1 and it was so bad that Peter Laviolette had to get the hook and play him off after the Pens chased him in the first 3:30 of the third period.
Going home’s gonna help. But even if the City of Smashville puts the paddles to the Preds chest — they’re not going anywhere if Rinne can’t get the Penguins out from between his ears. If the Preds D can’t limit Pittsburgh’s odd-man rushes. If Nashville can’t show some composure — the Penguins power play not clicking in Game 2, but SEVEN chances one too many matchsticks before they eventually catch fire.
Because Matt Murray’s been outstanding for Pittsburgh in nets. Jake Guentzel is heating back up — that baby-faced assassin dragging bodies into those three rivers.
And while the Preds are too good and too explosive to call this thing over — for the first time in this postseason, they’re up against it. And after taking two uppercuts to the jaw, we’ll see if the Preds revert back to the juggernaut they were rolling into the Final, or the regular season team that limped into the playoffs as the 16 seed.
The Playoffs are one thing. The Cup is another. And the champs just taught the Preds two painful lessons.