Western Conference Champions! The Nashville Predators pulled off a second straight improbable victory to eliminate the Anaheim Ducks in 6 games. Unlike Game 5, the Ducks dominated in almost every statistical category last night. They even passed the eye test. This game looked like the Ducks should have won 6-3, not the other way around. Nashville took advantage of Anaheim’s goaltending early and then rode Pekka Rinne to the win.
Look, I am the first to admit that was not a pretty game for the Preds. They played loose at times and could not establish hardly any zone time in this game. However, when they needed a goal Colton Sissons was there, 3 times! So, I am supposed to be writing about last night’s game, instead, I am going to just revel a bit in where this team is right now.
When this season started, the Predators were touted as a Cup contender. Then, the season started. Nashville struggles to find consistency through the first half of the season. However, in the second half of the season, as many people overlooked, Nashville was one of the better teams in the league. After a Jan. 8th loss to the Blackhawks, the Preds finished the year 25-13-5. So, yes they finished 8th, but they had a reason to be a confident team coming into the playoff year.
This team’s resiliency and fight is a big reason this team will be playing for the Stanley Cup for the first time in team history. I could throw out a number of superlatives about how well they have played as a team this postseason and how great Pekka Rinne has been (and he has been great). Instead, I am only going to just put one small set of stats that pretty much says everything you need to know about the Predators playoff run to this point.
Here is what the Predators did to the top players on each team they have beaten this playoff run:
Patrick Kane – 2pts, -3 in 4 games
Jonathan Toews – 2pts, -5 in 4 games
Artemi Panarin – 1 assist, -4 in 4 games
Marian Hossa – 0 points, -4 in 4 games
St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko – 3 points, +1 in 6 games
Jaden Schwartz – 4 points, +2 in 6 games
Ryan Getzlaf – 4 points, -2 in 6 games
Corey Perry – 2 goals, -3 in 6 games
Ryan Kesler – 1 assist, -6 in 6 games
Jakob Silfverberg – 3 points, -6 in 6 games
Basically, the Predators are in the Final, by simply making the offensive stars on the opposing team look average. It will be a tall order to do this for a fourth straight series, but if they are able to, we could have a very good summer here in Smashville.
Follow me on Twitter at danieljones@dj_puckplanet