Preds not comfy despite series stranglehold

Coach Barry Trotz, of the Nashville Predators, says he still isn't comfortable despite having a big...

Coach Barry Trotz, of the Nashville Predators, says he still isn't comfortable despite having a big lead in the series. (REUTERS)

QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 5:06 PM ET

Sure, the Nashville Predators might have the Detroit Red Wings on the ropes.

But they're far from feeling comfy about it.

Preds coach Barry Trotz sounds like he's worried about the Red Wings, down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series heading into Game 5 Friday in Nashville, using one of Muhammed Ali's old tricks. You know, the rope-a-dope strategy Ali used so effectively against George Foreman in 1974?

"No, no," Trotz said Wednesday when asked if he feels in control of the series. "The two games in Detroit, we could have been on the other end. We've had some good goaltending. We've had some timely goals. We've had some pretty good penalty kill."

And they've had plenty of Pekka Rinne.

Detroit held a 41-17 edge in shots Tuesday but still wound up on the wrong end of a 3-1 score in Game 4. Juri Hudler was the lone Wing to score and that came on a deflection.

"Their goalie is making saves," Red Wings forward Drew Miller said on the team's website. "We just have to find a way to score. We're out there working hard and it shows that we want to win. We just have to keep putting shots on net and eventually they're going to go in.

"It's do or die. We have to go in, play our game and get a win."

Knowing the Wings are in desperation mode, Trotz doesn't want to keep leaning on Rinne so heavily, though. To take some of the pressure off their goalie, the Preds coach wants his team to get more done in the Detroit zone.

"Puck management and puck support go hand in hand," Trotz said. "We can hang on to the puck a little bit longer in terms of our puck-possession skills down low. Detroit is doing a real good job in the neutral zone and we have to support the play a little better than we are right now.

"Our chances have come on counters for the most part and on the rush. You've got to play down in those trenches and hang onto (the puck), and force yourself and will yourself back to the net, get pucks to the net and people back to the net. We haven't done a good enough job in the Detroit games."

The Predators took the day off Wednesday, giving the likes of Rinne, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber a chance to get some much-needed rest.

Injured defenceman Hal Gill skated on his own -- he hasn't dressed in the playoffs due to a lower-body injury -- and is close to playing again. But his status for Game 5 is still up in the air.

"He is feeling better every day," Trotz said. "He's in a day-to-day mode right now. Do I expect him on Friday? I really can't answer that. That's probably a better question on Friday morning than it is today."


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