Nashville advances to the Western Conference Finals
The Nashville Predators have reached the Western Conference finals for the first time in the franchise’s existence. After becoming the first team in the history of the NHL to head into the playoffs as the bottom seed in the conference and sweep the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in four games, Nashville has defeated the St Louis Blues in six games in order to move onto the Western Conference finals.
The victory for the Predators did not come easy, as they beat the Blues 3-1 in game six after Calle Jarnkrok scored an empty net goal to finish it off with just a minute remaining in regulation. The Blues scored the first of the game when Paul Stastny beat Rinne just 2:04 into the first period. Not something which has come easily for the Blues or Blackhawks in these playoffs, as Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne has allowed just 14 goals in a total of 10 playoff games. A huge contributor to the Predators post-season success; Rinne has spent his entire career playing for the Predators, and of course, has made it to the conference finals for the first time along with the team.
Defenseman Ryan Ellis along with forward Ryan Johansen lead the team in points in these playoffs, each having scored a total of 9 points in 10 games. Johansen was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets last season in exchange for defenseman Seth Jones. He was tied with Viktor Arvidsson for the team lead in points during the regular season with 61.
Speaking of players who were traded to the Nashville Predators, defenseman PK Subban who was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens in the blockbuster trade which sent face of the franchise and captain Shea Weber to Montreal has also contributed greatly to the Predator’s success. Subban has 7 points, 4 of which have come on the powerplay, and is a +5 in the 2017 playoffs. Shea Weber is currently sitting at home and watching as his team was eliminated by the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs.
The story in Nashville has most definitely been their solid team defense combining with the stellar goaltending of Pekka Rinne. Which has resulted in Rinne posting a 1.37 GAA and .951% save percentage in these playoffs. These statistics are even more absurd when you notice the fact that the teams the Predators defeated were two of the most offensively powerful teams in today’s NHL. After holding the entire Blackhawks team to a maximum two points per player, the Predators held the St Louis Blues down to a total of 11 goals in 6 games.