NHLN Playoff Notebook: Dallas and Nashville Both Force Game Seven, Gudbranson Re-Signs with Florida

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 2:31 am by Scott Maxwell

What was that? You ordered a couple of game sevens for your pleasure? Well, whether you did or not, that’s exactly what you’re going to get. Dallas got off to an early lead, and then forgot how to play hockey for 40 minutes when St. Louis almost came back. Meanwhile, we had OT in Nashville yet again, but this time not as long, as the Preds beat the Sharks in overtime to force game 7. Also, Erik Gudbranson re-signed with the Florida Panthers to a one year, $3.5 million contract, so we’ll see how smart of a deal that was.


After a tough 4-1 loss at home, Dallas put themselves in an extremely tough situation: having to beat the Blues on home ice in order to avoid elimination. And they’d need their goalie to steal them a game to do so, something that they’ve hardly gotten in this series.

They got off to the start they were looking for when Mattias Janmark scored on a breakaway goal to give the Stars a 1-0 lead. Then, just 20 seconds later, Vernon Fiddler deflected the puck to the top shelf for a 2-0 lead, on his birthday no less! The Stars would put a stamp on the first period on a late power play, when Jason Spezza scored on a nifty toe-drag to beat Brian Elliott, and give them a 3-0 lead. That goal saw the end of Elliott’s night, after allowing three goals on just seven shots.

After that, the Stars did nothing. No, seriously, they did nothing! Jake Allen, Elliott’s replacement, saw just seven shots in 41:24 minutes of ice time. Meanwhile, the Blues had a series to win, but they’d have to comeback in this game. First, Alex Steen scored midway through the second to make it a 3-1 lead, and then Patrik Berglund would score midway through the third to close the deficit to just one goal. St. Louis continued to press hard for the tying goal, and almost had their chance when Jaden Schwartz got an excellent feed from David Backes behind the net, but Kari Lehtonen robbed him.

Alright, brace yourself, because these numbers are going to blow you away. St. Louis finished the game with a 73.81% CF at even strength. Kari Lehtonen stood on his head for the Stars, stopping 35 of 37 for a .946% save %. Not a single Star had a positive Corsi +/-, with the closest being Colton Scevior, Vernon Fiddler, and Patrick Eaves with a -4. The worst? Kris Russell with a -27 rating. Funny enough, if the Stars win tomorrow night, they have to give up a first round pick to Calgary because of him. Remember Dallas, you could’ve got Hamhuis for cheaper. On the opposite end of the spectrum, not a single St. Louis player had a negative Corsi, with the worst being Scottie Upshall’s +3. Their best player was Alex Pietrangelo, who had a +18 rating.

Suddenly, the win changes things for the Stars. Dallas regains their home ice advantage in a do or die situation. However, the wild card for game seven will be the goaltending: Will Kari Leht-one-in, or will he let them all in? Whichever one shows up will most likely decide the game for the Stars.

Series tied 3-3.


Much like the Stars, the Predators needed to survive in order to get a chance at winning the series. Unlike the Stars, they had the home ice advantage in game six, and that has been the story so far, as every game in this series has been won by the home team.

However, unlike the Stars in their game earlier, the Predators didn’t get off to that hot start that they were looking for, as Chris Tierney scored two goals in less than two minutes to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead. But, the Predators would chop the lead in half before the end of the first, as Roman Josi would score his first of the playoffs.

They would carry that momentum going into the second, as it took just 1:25 for the Preds to tie up the game via a goal from Ryan Johansen. It would be a goalies dual for the remainder of the second, as well as the early parts of the third, until Logan Couture beat a fallen Pekka Rinne to give the Sharks a 3-2 lead. But, that lead would last all of 2:40 before Colin Wilson would tie it up again. And with that the game would go to overtime.

Uh oh, we all know what happened last time these teams went to overtime. Ugh, three overtimes! I mean, it’s fun and exciting and all, but after a while the players get tired, and then it gets boring. My eyes are already drooping thinking about it…wait, it’s over already?! That’s right, it took just 2:03 (minutes, not hours) for this game to end, as Viktor Arvidsson went backhand, top shelf to win it for Nashville, and send the series back to San Jose for game seven.

Before we dig into the numbers of this game, let’s play a fun little game called What the F#%@ is Pekka Rinne Doing There!




Thank you for your patience. Nashville definitely proved to be the hungrier of the two teams, finishing the game with a 62.5% CF at even strength. San Jose had just one player with a positive Corsi rating, that being Matt Nieto’s +6. Everyone else was a minus, including Joe Thornton’s game worst -19. Nashville had no negatives, but they did have a neutral in Colton Sissons. Everyone else was a positive, including James Neal’s game high +14. With this win, the Nashville Predators set a franchise record for most playoff wins, with seven. Laugh at that all you want, but that’s more than the Leafs, Blue Jackets, Jets, and Oilers combined since 2006-07.

And so, the Preds have a chance to win their first second round series in franchise history on Thursday. They’ll need to play like they did tonight if they want any chance at winning, because you have to overcome having Pekka Rinne in net to win (remember the days when it was the other team that was afraid of him?).

Series tied 3-3


The Florida Panthers made some headlines when they extended their RFA defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a one year, $3.5 million contract. Gudbranson was coming off a two year, $2.5 million contract this season. This season, he had two goals and seven assists for nine points in 64 games.

How good is this contract? Well, a quick look at contract comparables will show some of the players making similar money next season, including Michael Del Zotto, Johnny Oduya, Brad Stuart, Cody Franson, and Zbynek Michalek. Since Gudbranson came into the league in 2011-12, only Stuart and Franson have had a worse CF% than Gudbranson’s 48.75%, although it should be noted that 4.5 of Franson’s seasons were in either Toronto or Buffalo. While 48.75% isn’t terrible, it’s not amazing, and when you produce as little offensively as Gudbranson (Karlsson almost doubled Gudbranson’s career totals this season), you’d expect him to be somewhat good defensively.

gudbranson hero

However, the contract only being one year makes it much more ideal, because there is no such thing as a bad one year contract (unless they should be locked up long term) due to the short term nature. Any salary is manageable if you can afford it for the one year. So, while $3.5 million might be a bit much for Erik Gudbranson, the one year deal makes it easier to swallow.



3. Viktor Arvidsson

What better way to score your first playoff goal than with an OT winner to avoid elimination, while also setting a new franchise record for playoff wins?

2. Chris Tierney
Despite the loss, Tierney put up a solid effort in the game, notching the first two goals, including a borderline high stick deflection to kick off the scoring.

1. Kari Lehtonen
Enjoy the spotlight while you’re here, Kari. Lehtonen stopped 35 of 37 shots to give the Stars a game six win, and send them home for game seven.