Let’s face it: The Nashville Predators are in a tough spot.
Yes, the Predators return home Sunday, where they’ve won eight of their last nine games and can force a Game 7 by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. But if they want to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, they’ll have earn a road win in what’s been a house of horrors — Pittsburgh has outscored Nashville 15-4 at PPG Paints Arena in this series.
There’s hope for these lovable underdogs, though, thanks in no small part to the 2011 Boston Bruins.
The Bruins, of course, defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in 2011 to win the Stanley Cup. They did so despite losing Games 1, 2 and 5 on the road and trailing 3-2 entering Game 6. Sound familiar?
Translation: There’s precedent for a Predators comeback, and Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Co. set it just six years ago.
It’s not an exact parallel, of course. The 2011 Bruins lost their first three games in Vancouver by one goal each — 1-0, 3-2 (OT) and 1-0 — while the Predators have gotten steamrolled in Pittsburgh. But both clubs used home ice to reinvigorate their chances: Boston followed an 8-1 rout in Game 3 with a convincing 4-1 win in Game 4 that undeniably shifted the series’ momentum, and Nashville outscored the Pens 9-2 over Games 3 and 4 in front of a raucous Bridgestone Arena crowd.
More importantly, the B’s were able to carry momentum from a Game 6 win back to Vancouver, where they stunned the Canucks 4-0 in Game 7 thanks to a 37-save performance by goaltender Tim Thomas.
Can the Predators follow suit? The answer might come down to netminder Pekka Rinne, who has been excellent at home but absolutely atrocious in the Steel City.
We’ll find out Sunday night if Nashville even pushes this series to seven games. But if it does, perhaps Predators coach and Franklin, Mass., native Peter Laviolette can reference his hometown team to inspire the Preds to their first-ever Stanley Cup victory.
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports