Nashville Predators G Pekka Rinne is playing MVP-quality hockey at the moment.
Nashville will play either Anaheim or Edmonton. The trend going in was success for the team with home ice as Ottawa had won the first two games of the series and NY won Games 3 and 4 to even the series. With the win, the Oilers forced a decisive Game 7 to be played Wednesday in Anaheim. The roster shake-up continued into the season with the firing of coach Ken Hitchcock on February 1 and the trade of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk not long after.
“I thought this team, if they didn’t max out, they were close, and that shows you how close the National Hockey League is because I think Nashville has a chance to win the (Stanley) Cup”. Ryan Johansen got the Preds out to a 2-1 lead at 3:15 in the third period with a backhanded shot.
This was a painful loss for St. Louis. Upshall began his career with the Predators. Paul Stastny poked home a loose puck, the Blues were up 1-0 and the Predators deflated. St. Louis scored just five goals over the final four games of the series and lost three of them. At left is Predators head coach Peter Laviolette.
Yes, the team that plays in a place called “Smashville” is going someplace the Predators have never been before: The Western Conference final.
The only problem is the lower-third graphic said the Predators were headed “to the Stanley Cup Finals”.
“I don’t think I can stress it enough”, defenseman Mattias Ekholm said in regard to the difference in travel this postseason. The ultimate goal is always to win a Stanley Cup and to watch someone else do it this year again is extremely frustrating.
“We’ve worked really hard to put ourselves in a good position”. Second, the NHL’s championship series is not called the “Finals”, like the National Basketball Association.
“Right now, it means everything”, Rinne said. Obviously, it’s a great feeling. There’s a lot of work left. After this second round, there are only four teams left.
“(Me and my linemates) knew before the game we needed our best”, Johansen said. “So I think we’re in a good spot and I feel much more at ease knowing that these guys are guys I think we can win with in the future”. I think nobody (is) happy with the result and we have time to think about it. “So whoever they play next is going to have their hands full”. In 10 games, he has a ridiculous save percentage of.951 and has only twice allowed more than two goals in a single game.
“I stopped thinking about it because at the end of the day I probably wouldn’t be the only player who’s been traded that really has no idea why it happened”, he said. That gave Nashville defensemen nine goals this postseason, a franchise record.
It was the second marker of the playoffs for Johansen, who took Viktor Arvidsson’s feed in the slot, deked from forehand to backhand and beat Jake Allen for the biggest goal in Predators history, giving the home side a 2-1 advantage. Only Allen kept the Predators from padding that lead with save after save, including a big stop on a breakaway by Filip Forsberg.
After Johansen’s goal, a sold-out crowd took every chance to stand up and stayed there for the final minutes to celebrate franchise history. Pred Nation delivered three consecutive TV timeout standing ovations, each one louder than the last.
“It was surreal being in Wembley Stadium with 90,000 people and being on the cusp of what would have been a quarter of a billion dollars had we won that game”.
– SlapShot Radio will have a preview of Game Seven between Edmonton and Anaheim and a look ahead at the Western Conference Final.