NHL Playoffs 2012: 4 Players Who Need to Step Up in the Predators vs Red Wings

PJ Sapienza@@pjsapiContributor IIIApril 16, 2012

NHL Playoffs 2012: 4 Players Who Need to Step Up in the Predators vs Red Wings

0 of 4

    The Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings are looking ahead to game four of their best of seven first round series.  Nashville leads the series 2-1.  Each game has been close, and both teams have won on the road.

    Each game has been a 3-2 final score. Game four is a must win for the Red Wings.  As the game approaches these are the players who need to step up to help their team win the series.

Jiri Hudler

1 of 4

    The regular season was nice, but Hudler needs strong playoffs for the team and fans to fully believe that he has a place here.  After showing some promise in earlier seasons, he ran off the KHL for a season then played miserably bad last year in his first season back.

    He entered this season with much to prove, and he answered the call.  He set a career high with 25 goals and finished the season with 50 points.  That was great for the regular season, but what about the playoffs?

    Hudler is small.  He is generously listed at 5’9 and is easily pushed around.  He has not played horrible but has spent allot of time getting up from the ice from all the knockdowns.  He needs to be able to score or at least set up scores to counter the physical play he is receiving.

    So far he has no points and is minus two.  He needs to step up his game.

Patric Hornqvist

2 of 4

    Patric Hornqvist led the Predators with 27 goals on the season, but has not found the back of the net the first three games of the playoffs.

    He did get an assist in the first game but with only 16 assists on the season, that is not his role.  His ice time has been down through the first three games compared to the regular season as well.

    The only way he found the back of the net was when he skated behind the Red Wings net in game three.  After cutting it too close, he blasted into the center back post knocking him down and sending the net flying as well. 

    The team has been able to withstand his scoring drought so far, but there will need him as this series continues.

Jimmy Howard

3 of 4

    Howard has played well this post season.  He needs to be better than that though.  Some lucky bounces and timely defections have beaten him.    

    He needs to carry the team to a win.  If not a shutout then he cannot allow more than one goal.  He needs to be able to frustrate and get into the head of the Predators.  His goals against sits at 2.66 after three games.  His save percentage is .890, far below what it needs to be.

    Howard has faced 23 fewer shots than Predators goalie Pekka Rinne.  He needs to carry the load for the team and keep the Predators off the score board.

Mike Fisher

4 of 4

    Mike Fisher was the third leading point producer on the team and only one of two Predators to top 20 goals this season.  He had 24 goals and 27 assists on the season.

    Through the first three games he is minus two with one assist.  He leads all forwards and centers on the team in ice time.  He needs to get back to his regular season form.

    It is surprising that Nashville is up the series when its only two 20-goal scorers have been held in check.

    PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings as well as many other sports. You can follow him on Twitter.

    To read his most recent articles see:

    Shea Weber's hit and Brandon Shanahan's blown move

    Detroit Red Wings: Breaking the Nashville Myth

    10 Questions Facing the Detroit Tigers

    5 Players the Red Wings Need to Step Up for the Playoffs