Predators Blow Golden Opportunity

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Gut-wrenching.

That’s the best way I can describe last night’s game between the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final.  In what has been the familiar script for the Predators, they rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period with goals from P.K. Subban and then Filip Forsberg tied the game with 44 seconds left to send the game into overtime.  It seemed that the Predators were once again going to work their magic but the Ducks scored to win the game and tie the series at 2-2.   The series now goes to Anaheim on Saturday for Game 5.

Some observations about the game:

  • Power Play is horrible.  The Predators even had a 5-on-3 opportunity and couldn’t score.  How is that possible?   Another very annoying thing is that the Predators pass way too much looking for the perfect shot then when they finally take the shot it is a very low-percentage chance.
  • Too many defensive breakdowns.  We seem to have lots of trouble and need to work harder in getting the puck out of our zone.    The Ducks have made adjustments and really harass us on our end.
  • Kesler is in Ryan Johansen’s head.  Johansen’s play has deteriorated as the series has gone on and I think Johansen is more worried about Kesler than he is in playing his game.
  • Too many passes.  On offense, we are making too many passes looking for the perfect shot (see Power Play is horrible above)
  • Not making good shot selections.   Ducks’ goalie John Gibson is not that good.  We are making him look better than he is.  It’s not too difficult to stop shots when you shoot at the pads.
  • We’re Playing Their Game.  The Ducks aren’t as good as we are making them look.  We are playing down to their level than playing our game.  You have to give the Ducks credit for making the adjustments to take us out of our game.

I hate to say this but after last night’s loss, I think the series is going to get away from the Predators.  Obviously Game 5 will be huge.   Can the Predators regain themselves and take it to the Ducks or will they fade and let the Ducks take control of the series?

No, the series isn’t over but if the Predators haven’t played their best hockey yet, they might want to do it now.

Predators Go Duck Hunting

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The Western Conference Final is here and the surprising Nashville Predators face the Anaheim Ducks in the final four of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.   These two teams are no strangers to each other.  Last season, the Predators stunned the Ducks in the first round by eliminating them in seven games.  This season the Predators have gone where they have never been before while the Ducks finally won a Game 7 on Wednesday night after losing their previous five series deciding games.

The Predators have had almost four days’ rest since eliminating the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 on Sunday.  I think the rest will help them after such a physical series and have them ready for the Ducks.  The Ducks, who just played on Wednesday, will be ready to take it to the Predators and attempt to get revenge for last season’s loss.

One thing that might be the Predator’s undoing is a mindset that they have nothing else to prove.  They have advanced further than any team has in the past.  Hopefully, they will play more loosely and relaxed in this series.  The Ducks on the other hand, seem to be on a mission.  They have had good teams in the past season and seem set to push through to win the Cup.

Game One begins tonight in Anaheim.

In the regular season, the Ducks won the first meeting on October 26th convincingly 6-1.  In their only meeting in Nashville, the Predators blanked the Ducks 5-0 on November 12th.  In their most recent meeting, the Ducks won 4-3 in a shootout on March 7th.

The Predators are 2-0 in playoff series against the Ducks.   Winning four games to two in 2011 and winning in seven games last season.

I believe that the Predators’ magical playoff run will end here.   I look for the Ducks to take the series in six games and advance to their second Stanley Cup final.