The St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators meet Sunday in game six of the second round National Hockey League playoffs at the Bridgestone Arena. 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. The Predators won 3-1 to win the series 4-2. The Predators are 4-0 in their last 4 home games, 4-1 in their last 5 games playing on 1 days rest and 7-2 in their last 9 overall. The Predators remain undefeated at home during the playoffs.
"I don't think we started really well tonight", Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said.
For Nashville, the current run into the Western Conference Final is the deepest its been. He is one of seven coaches since 1982 to take three teams to a conference final, joining Mike Keenan, Darryl Sutter, Ken Hitchcock, Jacques Lemaire, Jacques Demers and Pat Burns on that list. Ryan Johansen is the big center landed with Nashville's first big trade, a move nearly forgotten in all the wake of the deal that brought P.K. Subban to Music City.
"It's nothing we can really think about now". Our ultimate goal is to win a Stanley Cup. "But we'll learn from this and we'll find a way to get better". "There's still a lot of hockey left to be played". And he didn't have a shot on goal in the previous two periods. "We're going to enjoy it now for a few minutes and forget it and go get another one". There's a lot of work left.
The Blues finished 46-29-7 (99 points) and are one of four teams (Pittsburgh, Chicago, New York Rangers) to qualify for the playoffs six straight seasons. "They took their game to another level, and we didn't match it".
That was exactly what Nashville hoped for in trading for Johansen, who called scoring that goal a "good feeling".
With Klefbom and Sekera gone, Eric Gryba, who hadn't played since Game 1 of the first round, and call-up Griffin Reinhart were dressed.
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"We believe that we have a group that obviously we can build with and we can build internally with our young players and we can build internally with the competition of those young players", Yeo said. Allen ranked just behind Rinne among stingy goalies this postseason, and the Blues had been the NHL's best team after coach Mike Yeo replaced Ken Hitchcock on February 1.
If it would not have been for two simultaneous penalties that lead to a five on three, the Blues might not have given up a goal in that game. Rinne even posted his third assist of the postseason on Calle Jarnkrok's empty netter with a minute left that clinched their series against St. Louis. For reference, the best high-danger save percentage during the regular season (10 or more games worth of ice time) was.857. Jaden Schwartz leads St. Louis with four goals, Alexander Steen has four assists and Vladimir Tarasenko has 39 shots on goal.
The Oilers didn't show mercy in the second period, with Anton Slepyshev scoring just 45 seconds in on a feed from Patrick Maroon. That gave Nashville defensemen nine goals this postseason, a franchise record. The Predators lead the series 3-2.
It was just the second goal of the playoffs for Johansen, who credited defenseman Yannick Weber for pushing him into the play.
Such is life as a team owner, where wins and losses can sometimes mean more than the bottom line.
"We're halfway there", Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "Standing ovations at every whistle nearly". To see Rinne leave his net as the puck comes around the boards and attack it, nearly as if he were making a save, is one of the most entertaining parts of his game.
Nashville awaits the victor of the Anaheim-Edmonton series to see which club will represent the Western Conference in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.