Stanley Cup Final: Game 6
Sunday, June 11, 2017 - 8:00 p.m. ET
Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, TN
Watch: NBC - NBC Sports app - NBCSports.com
Keys to Victory
1. A Clean Slate: Maybe it was complacency that cost the Predators Game 5, or maybe the Penguins are just that good on home ice, but it's important for both teams to put that game behind them. For Nashville, they now have another opportunity to play in front of their fiercely loyal crowd, this time in a must-win scenario. That's the focus. Win this game and go from there. It's the same mentality they had following Game 2; P.K. Subban's "guarantee" was basically him saying they were done with the first two games and were confident in their abilities to win the game ahead of them. If we're going to see a Game 7, the Predators have to continue to stay out of their own collective head and take advantage of what's in front of them.
2. #RyanEllisProblems: One key question mark for the home team is that of whether or not defenseman Ryan Ellis will play. He suffered a mysterious injury that took him out of Game 5 late and could sideline him tonight as well. Though his teammates "expect him to play," Ellis' absence from the team's morning skate suggests otherwise. He did skate by himself, but was apparently unable to get much power on his shot and just seemed uncomfortable. Ellis' presence on the Nashville blue line would be sorely missed; Matt Irwin or Yannick Weber would need to move up to fill the void in the top-4, but they've been eaten alive by the Penguins’ stars at times. It's a storyline to keep an eye on for sure.
3. Who's going to save the day? The Predators went into game 5 with a glorious opportunity. But after their ugliest performance of the playoffs, they're on the brink of elimination. Not a single Nashville player could score in Game 5, even after it looked like Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson might have broken the dam in Game 4. It's high time for someone like Forsberg, who was as reliable as they come in the WCF, to take control of a game and see his team through as Sidney Crosby did for his team in Game 5. The goals from depth players have made for fascinating stories, but in crunch time, you need your best players to be your best players, and that includes the defensemen who have provided so much offense. If players like Forsberg, Arvidsson, James Neal, P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, etc., can't get the offense going tonight, we'll be in the offseason when we wake up tomorrow morning. -Peter Dewar
- Diverse Scoring: In Game 5 the Penguins dominated play from start to finish. The biggest reason why is the Predators couldn't focus on shutting down one player to stop the scoring. Pittsburgh had six goals by six different scorers, including the first goals by Penguins defensemen in the series. I don't expect the Penguins will have six goals in Game 6, but if they continue to play this balanced offense, they will win the game, and hoist the Cup tonight.
- Get Under Their Skin: It has been proven this series that the refs aren't calling much. The Penguins have done a good job getting under the Predators' skin, but they need to ramp it up tonight. If the Pens can generate a power play early on a retaliation call, then they can take momentum from Nashville, and make it harder for them to play their game.
- Traffic Jam: Both Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros struggled to track the puck in Game 5. This has been an issue for Rinne all series, who has looked unsettled in Pittsburgh but has been able to make enough saves in Nashville to win. Rinne is a rhythm goalie and struggles to make saves when he hasn't seen a lot of shots, this makes him vulnerable at the start of games. The Penguins need to keep up the pressure by making some contact and by screening the goalie to not let him get settled. This pressure will further shake Rinbe, assuming he starts, and make it considerably harder for him to eventually become comfortable. -Zeke Lukow