NASHVILLE — High winds howled through the streets of downtown Nashville Thursday, where the official city bird is the construction crane.
Those winds weren’t supposed to penetrate the walls of Bridgestone Arena for Game 4, but the Ducks have been skating against them in this series.
Nashville took a 2-1 lead into Game 4. It has a composite shots-on-goal advantage of 119-76. Not all shots are dangerous ones, of course, and the teams were tied in goals, 8-8. But it doesn’t portend an eventual Ducks victory or even a long series.
Merle Haggard did not have the Predators in mind when he sang, “Are we rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell?,” but Music City’s team is playing that way.
“There are a lot of teams who are very aggressive and challenge you all over the ice,’ Cam Fowler said. “But the unique thing about Nashville is that they do it for 60 minutes. Their defensemen are picking you up at the red line. They’re not giving you any space.
“If you make good plays and move the puck, you can suddenly find yourself with a lot of ice in front of you. So there’s a give and take. We didn’t do that in Game 3, and that’s what we’re going to have to do from now on.”
The Predators have manufactured defensemen for years. Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Seth Jones used to play here. P.K. Subban, Mattias Ekholm, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis do so now.
Ellis was Fowler’s teammate on a powerful Windsor Spitfires team in Canadian junior hockey. He has had a sensational playoff run, with 10 points in 13 games, and he had nine shots on goal in the Game 3 victory.
Josi also had 10 points in 13 games, and five goals, including the winner on Tuesday.
Subban had not yet taken over a game in its entirety, but his ability to do so was another worry for Anaheim.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle wanted more speed through the neutral zone in Game 4.
“You have to be smart about how you do it,” said winger Andrew Cogliano. “When you have the opportunity to play fast, you try to move the puck quickly, but when you don’t, you need to take the time to come back. You need to get everybody on the same page at that point.
“It’s hard during a game because there are times when the opportunity looks like it’s there but it’s not. You need to come with a plan together on how to attack the neutral zone instead of having it turn into a mismash.”
Carlyle also pointed out that the Ducks might have been flat because Tuesday was their fourth game in six days. But they have little time to un-flatten themselves, since games in this series are being played every other day. And, of course, the secret is to finish business when you can, instead of getting blown out in Game 6 at Edmonton and prolonging the second round.
Predators coach Peter Laviolette doesn’t think his team’s fast-twitch approach should be misinterpreted.
“At times we have to stay and play good defense, and we’ve done a pretty good job of that through the playoffs,”…