Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Preds/Ducks Series Wrapup

It's been well over a day, so before we look forward to a 2nd round match-up with either Vancouver or Detroit, it's time to look back on the historic series that wrapped up on Sunday. Some thoughts...
  • The 6th time's a charm. In each of the previous five series losses, the final game was on home ice. That only made clinching the first ever series win on home ice even sweeter.
  • In last season's playoff series with Chicago, the PP unit was an abysmal 1 for 27, with the one coming in Game 6 courtesy of the now departed Jason Arnott. In this series, Nashville was 6 for 27, a remarkable improvement, and good for 7th best in the playoffs to this point. On the other hand, Nashville's PK unit gave up 8 goals, good for dead last in the playoffs. This is rather alarming after the unit finished 5th in the league during the regular season, and with Vancouver or Detroit on the horizon, frequent trips to the box would be unwise, especially if the PK continues to struggle.
  • As much of a pain as he was, Teemu Selanne was an absolute joy to watch during this series. He took the hockey world by surprise with his outburst of offense at age 40, and that carried into the playoffs. I hope he comes back for one more season next year, but if he decides to hang up the skates, he certainly went out with a bang.
  • Mike Fisher. What more can you say about the guy? David Poile brought him in to contribute in the playoffs, and he did just that. He led the team with six points (3G-3A), won 53% of his faceoffs (the biggest being the one late in Game 5 leading to Weber's GTG), and was able to provide and lean on experience in the playoffs that nobody else on the team can claim. The Fisher trade was undoubtedly the turning point in the season, and was a key reason Nashville is still playing hockey today.
  • When Martin Erat went down in Game 4, I wondered if the sudden outburst of offense would be able to continue. I was really happy with the Erat-Legwand-Ward line, and all of that chemistry was suddenly gone. I wasn't very optimistic at first, so you can imagine my surprise when, of all the lines I expected to pick up the slack, the Spaling-Smithson-Tootoo line began to pick up the slack offensively. Hopefully that line can keep it up, because that only makes the Preds more dangerous heading into Round 2.
  • Speaking of Tootoo, he just played the series of his life. In 24 previous playoff games with Nashville, he registered a grand total of four points; in six games, he tallied five, and we're not done just yet. Obviously, he's not known for his offensive abilities, but adding this dimension to his game is incredible. After all he's been through this season, how can you not feel happy for the guy?
  • Steve Sullivan has lost his offensive touch over the past few years, but his two goals in the series came at huge points during the games in which they were scored. His eventual GWG in Game 1 marked 7 years to the day since his last playoff goal, and his goal yesterday gave the Preds their first lead.
  • You gotta feel happy for David Poile, Barry Trotz, and ownership group, as well as the fans that have stuck with the team through thick and thin. It's been a long, tenuous, gut-wrenching 13 years, but all of the hard work has finally paid off. 
4 down, 12 to go. Next up is a match-up with either a well-rested Detroit or very tired Vancouver squad. The first hurdle has been cleared. Now the question is, how far can this team go? They have all kinds of momentum, and an electrified fan-base behind them. Buckle up; it's going to be a wild ride.

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