NHL Playoff Recap – Conference Finals Edition

Western Conference

P1 Anaheim Ducks 2 vs WC2 Nashville Predators 4

  • My Prediction: I predicted that Nashville would win in 6 games
  • Thoughts: Nashville won this game in much the same way as they defeated the Blackhawks and Blues.  Their defense was able to shutdown Anaheim’s forwards and the pairing of P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm was able to slow Ryan Getzlaf’s line down better than Calgary or Edmonton were.  The Predators also exhibited more depth at forward than perhaps any other team in these playoffs after their top two centers, Ryan Johansen and Mike Fisher, went down with injuries.  In games five and six, missing both of these players, Colton Sissons, Pontus Aberg, and Austin Watson stepped up in big ways.  Head coach Peter Laviolette did an excellent job of understanding his roster by splitting up the top line following Johansen’s injury and they got balanced production as a result.  The most important player for Nashville in this series was once again Pekka Rinne, who stepped up in a huge way, especially in game six when the Predators were outshot 41-18.  Anaheim ended up losing this series because they couldn’t score and they also didn’t get timely saves from their goaltenders.  They should have been able to count on more than three goals in game six but Rinne stood on his head.

Eastern Conference

M2 Pittsburgh Penguins 4 vs A2 Ottawa Senators 3

  • My Prediction: I picked Pittsburgh to win the series in 6 games
  • Thoughts: I truly think that Ottawa not having a healthy Erik Karlsson made all the difference in this series.  He clearly was laboring throughout in all seven games and Pittsburgh did a very good job of giving him as little time as possible to make decisions with the puck.  The Senators got further in these playoffs than anyone picked them to and the team and their fans should be extremely happy and proud of their season.  This series went to double overtime of game seven and Ottawa could even have a gripe that they should have won the game in regulation with the embellishment that Phil Kessel performed, leading to a powerplay goal for Pittsburgh.  However, teams have to play within the officiating of a game and series and the officiating wasn’t good for either team.  For Pittsburgh, head coach Mike Sullivan continued doing an amazing job of insulating his pieced-together defense group and has been implementing a system that has his wingers come back on the cycle to protect against a defenseman pinching too far down in the offensive zone. The time off until the Stanley Cup Finals start on Monday will likely give the injured players time to heal up before a matchup with the Nashville Predators, who will present the toughest matchup that Pittsburgh has faced in these playoffs.
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