NHL Playoffs: 3 Changes the Nashville Predators Need to Make Heading into Game 2

Keegan McNally@Keegan_McNallyCorrespondent IIApril 12, 2012

NHL Playoffs: 3 Changes the Nashville Predators Need to Make Heading into Game 2

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    On Wednesday, the Nashville Predators took the first step towards hockey's ultimate prize by defeating the Red Wings 3-2 in Nashville.

    Although it is always good to open up the playoffs with a win, especially at home, the Predators were far from playing their best hockey.

    The good news for the Predators is that their captain and arguably most valuable player on their team, Shea Weber, only received a fine for his WWE, head-smash move on Henrik Zetterberg as the final buzzer sounded.

    Hopefully the Predators and Weber can improve on a few key areas before Friday's matchup. 

Generating Legitimate Chances

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    In general, a three-goal night is never a bad thing. However, two of the goals by Nashville didn't result from legitimate scoring chances.

    Now players will tell you that one of the biggest factors in winning a playoff series is luck. Bounces have to go your way or else you'll be out of the race fast.

    The bounces luckily went Nashville's way.

    The first goal by Paul Gaustad pinballed around Jimmy Howard until it careened off a Red Wings defenseman into the back of the net.

    The second goal was a 70-foot shot from Matt Halischuk that deflected off Gabriel Bourque and surprised Howard. 

    The Predators were outshot 37-to-26, a figure they will surely hope to improve on by Friday. 

Discipline, Discipline, Discipline

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    It wasn't just the Shea Weber smash that is going viral that the Predators need to fix.

    Game 1 saw the Predators record 20 minutes of penalties, good enough to put them on the penalty kill every time anyone got up to hit the fridge. 

    If the Predators are looking to sink the Wings, which is a daunting task every single year, they need to tighten up the penalties. They surrendered two power-play goals to Detroit and were inches away from giving up a third, game-tying goal. 

    The discipline has to start with Shea Weber. As the captain of the best Nashville roster in history, he needs to keep his cool and lead his team to new heights. Smashing one of hockey's best players into the glass probably isn't exactly what Barry Trotz meant by "playoff intensity."

Alexander Radulov Has to Step Up

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    Alexander Radulov stepped in during the regular season and recorded seven points in nine games. Many analysts were saying that he was the missing piece on the Predators' roster.

    However, in Game 1, he was nowhere to be seen.

    His ice time was a measly 15 minutes, well below his regular-season average. He registered just one shot on the night.

    Radulov has the ability to turn it on and many Predators fans are counting on his offensive ability to improve the players around him. 

    If the Preds are to take Game 2, Radulov has to turn it on and start firing some shots on net.