BRIDGESTONE ARENA JUNE 5, 2017
SO PREDATORS FIRST-LINE center Ryan Johansen gets hurt and spends the day of Game 4 as Nashville’s Honorary Mayor. Meanwhile, the understudies go out and win. The Predators, winners of two straight, suddenly found themselves within two wins of hoisting the Stanley Cup, which would be in their house for Game 6 regardless of who won Game 5. And they did it with a center corps consisting of: Mike Fisher, who turned 37 the day of Game 4; Frederick Gaudreau, a castoff who was never drafted; Calle Jarnkrok, who was acquired for David Legwand; and, Colton Sissons, who has averaged one goal every 8.4 games for his career. “Really, it’s the way we play as a team,” Fisher said. “Whoever is in there, if we play a certain way, we know we can be successful. We have to continue to get better in this series, because we know it’s not getting any easier. There’s no question we have to, as the center group, be even better. We know who we’re facing.” Gaudreau’s goal in Game 4, his third of the series, was the winner. At the beginning of the series, it would’ve been outlandish to expect this rag-tag group of pivots to get the better of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. If you had predicted before the series the Penguins defense corps would be exposed, well, that’s exactly what happened in Games 3 and 4. “They’re not perfect by any stretch,” said coach Mike Sullivan. “But these guys are competing. I believe they’re doing their very best to help us at both ends of the rink.” Sullivan also called his group of defensemen “a simple bunch.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. The simple bunch needed a simple plan to be a lot better, lest the defending champions lose their grip on the Stanley Cup.