Throw everything at the net to start tonight's game.
In the wildest dreams of Coyotes fans, players, coaches, front office members, players' mothers, Phoenix would not be one game away from the Western Conference Finals.
There's always the domino theory of pressure. If the Coyotes don't clinch tonight, doubt will creep in their minds about their ability to close out an opponent. The theory says you don't want to be forced back to Nashville. The Predators would have home ice so they win game 6. Now it's the "nothing to lose" mentality because the pressure is on the Yotes since they had two previous opportunities to close the series and couldn't do it. Some teams relax better for a Game 7 that's on the road and the momentum would be in Nashville's favor.
I don't believe any of that.
Teams down 3-1 say that to make themselves think it will happen.
Phoenix is an amazing 4-1 in playoff road games this year. There is no fear in being forced to return to Nashville. The path to play Nashville in the first place was via losing a home Game 5 to Chicago and winning a clinching road Game 6. There is nothing the Predators can do that will recreate the pressure of the last three years. Nashville can't intimidate with ownership issues. The Predators don't create the same fear in the minds of the Coyotes players like the phrases "Goldwater Institute," "Judge Redfield T. Baum," or the worst: "Bryzgalov in goal for the Coyotes."
Since the Coyotes have already proven they can lose a clinching Game 5 at home and still recover to win a road Game 6, the pressure is minuscule tonight. The pressure of a Game 7 is easily overcome with a coach like Dave Tippett, a captain with the mental toughness of Shane Doan and a steel-nerved goaltender named Mike Smith.
The risk/reward of the first goal for Game 5 is highly in favor of the Coyotes advancing beyond the second round. The Preds will bring everything they have to start the game. The Coyotes should take advantage of that. It's Nashville who has to be overly-aggressive. It's Nashville who has to take risks in order to bring pressure against Smith. It's Nashville who's desperate. If the Preds score first tonight, it changes nothing. The Phoenix Coyotes are still advancing to the Western Conference finals.
From the Nashville perspective, they can't handle an opening goal by the Coyotes. Imagine the most pressure- packed moment of your life. Your whole focus is this moment. You give everything you have and you get punched right in the face. No one has any confidence if they give everything and they're standing alone during a standing 8- count. There's no recovery. If the Coyotes score first, it forces Nashville to become even more aggressive, therefore opening up the ice that much more for Predator mistakes.
Make no mistake, this is a big game for the Coyotes. The catch is it's a big game for the Coyotes in the hope of winning the Stanley Cup. It's not a big game in relation to the Western Conference semifinal series between Phoenix and Nashville. Every Nashville win allows the Kings more rest. Accept it now, the Western Conference Finals are the Kings @ Phoenix for Game 1. There's no jinx. You should not wallow in fear when you read those words. Nashville is not beating Mike Smith three straight games. The only question is how much rest will the Coyotes get before the Western Conference Finals start.
Scoring first will make the rest of the game so much easier tonight. Don't believe me? The Predators haven't lost in the 2012 playoffs when they score first. They're 5-0. All four of their playoff losses have come after the Red Wings or Coyotes scored first. That's 5-0 versus 0-4.
Don't go into a shell and let the Predators attack. Quick counters tonight will lead to a series against Quick-- Jonathan that is.
Bring on the Kings!