NHLN Playoff Notebook: Preds push it to 7, Blues win in Game 7

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 2:33 am by Adam Laskaris

The night of Monday, April 25, 2016 will go down in NHL history for a number of reasons.

One, it was the night the Nashville Predators forced their first ever Game 7. Such a proud moment for a young franchise.

Two, it was the last night of NHL hockey until… Wednesday. 

And three, it was the night that the St. Louis Blues overcame their playoff demons and defeated the Chicago Blackhawks.

With that being said, let’s take a quick look back at the night that was in the NHL.

St. Louis Blues 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2

There were a lot of emotions going through the minds of, well, everyone in this game.

St. Louis started out hot with a goal from… Jori Lehtera of all people. Mix it in with a second Blues goal by Colton Parayko and it was 2-0 Blues before the game was 14 minutes old.

But Marian Hossa did Marian Hossa things to get the Hawks on the board, and there was a sentiment growing that much like they did in the series, the Hawks would find a way to claw back.

When Andrew Shaw scored his fourth goal of the series to tie things at 2, it seemed like that cruel fate would befall the Blues and they’d end up losing yet another winnable series, as they hadn’t advanced to the second round since 2012.

But Troy Brouwer proved that he was True Blue at heart, scoring the 3-2 goal against the team he won the Stanley Cup with way back in 2010. The definition of a garbage goal. Just keep swimming, Troy. Ride the wave, it won’t last forever.

As is often the case, games will be remembered for the pucks that didn’t go in, rather than the ones that did. Like this chance, which went begging for a “rob Rob Fabbri” pun.

 And while there was that sense that maybe the Blackhawks would pull this one out… their fans will cringe every time they watch this.

That was as close as Chicago got repeating as Stanley Cup Champions. Better luck next time, boys. Or not. Let someome else have a chance please, LA’s already doing their part.

Screenshot (30)

chart via hockeystats.ca

Chicago, as you can see, played a pretty solid game. However, almost no one will feel sorry for them not moving on from this one.

This ultimately was a series that deserved to go seven games, and it delivered in pure entertainment value, for sure.  The Blues move on to face the high-octane offence that is the Dallas Stars in the next round.

Nashville Predators 3, Anaheim Ducks 1

Sometimes what doesn’t occur in a game is just as exciting as what does. This game only really featured three goals (and an empty-netter), all of which occurred in the second period.

This game surely didn’t help with the “hockey has the perfect amount of scoring” argument, with long stretches of back and forth matched equally with… no goals. However, with one team on the brink of eliminating the other, you couldn’t ask for much more as a fan of defensive hockey.

Though neither Tennessee nor California have ever been traditional hockey markets, crowd support has at least appeared as strong and rabid as anywhere else this series, which is always a positive.

Screenshot 2016-04-26 at 9.28.09 AM

chart via hockeystats.ca

Now for the actual on-ice happenings of the game.

Mattias Ekholm kicked things off by netting just under halfway through the second period, scoring at 8:10 into the frame.

Sniper James Neal then doubled the lead to 2 about 10 minutes later off a beautiful feed from Ryan Johansen.

I am slowly falling in love with that pass. It’s everything.

The beauty of the playoffs is that salary cap talk gets thrown out the window, so to speak. While obviously at NHLNumbers we’re well-versed in the various contracts around the league, it’s sometimes an annoyance to spend so much time evaluating a player based on their dollar-value comparables rather than solely their on-ice counterparts.

Enter Ryan Kesler. His contract has been the topic of much debate over the last few years, as it’s generally accepted he’s making too much money for his output. I’m not going to go into specifics because it kills my point if I discuss it too much.

Kesler, overpaid and all… still found a way to be the only Duck to score in this one with a power play goal with just 14 seconds remaining in the second.

And that was pretty much it. As you can see in the above chart, Anaheim out possessed and outshot the the Predators (albeit 27-26), but couldn’t muster up anything more than a rebound goal from Kesler. There wasn’t really any egregious misses in the third period, just some solid defensive hockey and very strong goaltending at both ends. Shea Weber added an empty net goal with 10 seconds remaining, but the way Rinne played in this one it didn’t matter if the Ducks had 9 skaters, there’s no way he’d be the one surrendering the series-winning goal on home ice.

Three Stars

3. Troy Brouwer. He scored the team’s first Game 7 winner, and to do it against your former team… wow. What a moment for him, is all. Can you say St. Louis folk hero? 

2. Pekka Rinne. Having had an up-and-down season and been criticized for never really performing in the playoffs to the level of other top goaltenders, Rinne shut the door down the stretch and

1. Brian Elliot. Arguably one of the most underrated goalies of his generation, Elliot made 31 saves (including 30 of 31 at even strength) to preserve the Blues’ victory.

There’s no hockey today (at least at the NHL level.) This makes me sad, but breaks are nice too.

Predators take on the Ducks Wednesday night to fight this thing out to close out Round 1… while Round 2 starts for the Islanders and Lightning the same night in a traditionalists’ nightmare. Why?

¯_(ツ)_/¯.

See you then.