DETROIT — Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz is ready to play the odds.
Maybe being located so close to a casino at the MGM Grand, the team’s hotel headquarters, has him thinking “Lady Luck” is ready to guide the Predators as they seek their first win on the road in four playoff series.
The Predators enter tonight’s Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals series with the Detroit Red Wings here at Joe Louis Arena tied 2-2 in the best-of-seven series.
“We have talked about that,” Trotz said. “If we are going to win the series we have to win one in the Joe, plain and simple. We expect an all-out effort on our end. I know we are going to see the best that Detroit has to offer.
“We are not intimidated by that. I think we know we have to come in and play our ‘A’ game. The more times we play at the Joe, the better chance we have of it happening. That’s just the odds.”
Beating the Red Wings for the third straight time might be an even bigger challenge.
“I don’t think anyone can say they have beaten Detroit three times in a row in the last 10 seasons, never mind this season,” Trotz said. “Detroit is not rattled. They are a very poised team. They are going to come out with an outstanding effort.
“They are going to tweak what they did Wednesday. They are going to try to take advantage of us in one area. And we are going to try to do the same thing to them and try to be a little bit better.”
Trotz is hopeful the Predators will have another lead to protect, but he felt like the team lost a little of its edge in the final half of the game on Wednesday.
“We got off our game a little bit in the second 30 minutes,” Trotz said. “We weren’t as hard as we needed to be. Collectively, we backed off. By doing that we gave Detroit a little more room and a little more confidence.”
In the wake of the first two losses the Predators’ top two lines were criticized for their lack of production. In the two wins, eight different players scored.
“We need everybody contributing,” Trotz said. “We are a better hockey club that way instead of relying on one or two guys or one line to do all of the scoring. We aren’t built that way to have one line create everything for us.”
Predators captain Jason Arnott points to the crowd in Joe Louis Arena as a hurdle to overcome.
“The home team has a lot more energy and jump because of the fans,” Arnott said. “The last two games we have played a lot better than we did in the first two games. We are getting pucks to the net and getting traffic. That’s what we have to focus on.
“We can’t get too fancy. We have to play a simple road game.”
Predators goaltender Dan Ellis is in his first ever NHL playoff series, but he knows all too well the history of the team in postseason games on the road.
“That is something that is in the past with this team,” Ellis said. “We just look to have success in this playoff series whether at home or on the road. We have had success in this building before. Just because it is the playoffs doesn’t mean we can’t have success again.”
At times during the regular season the Predators were performing better on the road than they were at home. Defenseman Greg de Vries, facing the Red Wings in the playoffs for the fourth time in his career (three with Colorado), rates Joe Louis Arena as a great place to play because of the atmosphere.
“Detroit always has a solid team,” de Vries said, “They have always been a puck possession team. They play their system real well, especially on their home ice.
“We have to continue to get the puck deep. We have to play hard and get back to the way we started the game. We have been scoring in bunches in this series. If we get off to a good start we could have a quick two-goal lead. We have to take the game to them.”