The Nashville Predators are heading to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history after defeating the St. Louis Blues in six games. Pekka Rinne continued his dominance between the pipes and their blue line continues to be a major offensive threat.
The Blues put forth a valiant effort, but it came a little too late. Some players got cold at the wrong time. Their future on the blue line is bright with Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko, and this team has the pieces to return to the playoffs again next season.
St. Louis Blues vs Nashville Predators Series Recap
Pekka Rinne Playing at a Conn Smythe Level
The stats speak for themselves, and in ten games, Rinne is putting up note worthy numbers. A 1.37 goals against average and .951 save percentage through two rounds are numbers rarely seen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has put his franchise on his shoulders and as a team the Predators have 28 goals for and a mere 14 goals against in their 10 playoff games.
Blue Line Brilliance
The Nashville Predators have the best blue line group in the league. Their defensive group have tallied 27 points these playoffs. Ryan Ellis will also get into Conn Smythe discussion if he continues to play this way. He has four goals and five assists in ten games. Roman Josi and P.K. Subban have eight and seven points respectively. Add in Mattias Ekholm‘s excellent defensive play, and the Predators blue line is also effecting the game in their own end. As well as Rinne is playing, he’s also getting plenty of help from this group.
Blues Got Ice Cold
22 goals for and 23 goals against. The Blues made this series more intriguing than many felt it would be, but ultimately they did not have quite enough to defeat Nashville. After scoring 39 goals in the regular season, Vladimir Tarasenko managed to score only three over the Blues twelve game playoff run. A bigger disappointment though comes in the form of Patrik Berglund. He registered 23 goals in the regular season but failed to find the back of the net even once in the playoffs.
One person who certainly cannot be blamed for his teams’ lacklustre play is their goalie Jake Allen. His 1.96 GAA and .934 SV% would usually be enough to reach the next round, but not when you mange to score more than two goals in only two of six games, one of them in a losing effort.
Special Teams Spectrum
Nashville has been playing great on special teams throughout their entire Stanley Cup Playoff run. They’re 20% on the power play and 87.5% on the penalty kill. Those numbers are what winning teams are made of. Their key trio on defence are also staying out of the penalty box, having combined for a mere sixteen penalty minutes, ten of which belong to Subban.
St. Louis on the other hand has a different look to their special teams play. They managed to go a miserable 6.7% on the power play with an 80% effort on the penalty kill. Although Tarasenko finished the playoffs with zero penalty minutes, their best defenceman, this postseason, in Edmundson was in the box for fourteen minutes.
The Nashville Predators now await either the Edmonton Oilers or Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final and will look to continue to exploit their opponents weaknesses while relying on the stellar play of Rinne.