Well, that’s an unexpected pleasure!
Favored to win the Stanley Cup once again, It goes without saying that the Chicago Blackhawks were expected to win this series with the Nashville Predators. So what actually happened? We proceeded to win all four games, two of which were blowouts! Whoa!
Me? These games are often close so I thought we had a chance. But I knew that we had to win one of the first two games in Chicago. Sure enough, we did that in game 1 with a shutout of the Blackhawks. We then followed that up by crushing Chicago 5-0!
At that point, we seemed favored to win the series. Then Chicago took a 2-0 lead in game three. I’m like, “Oh, shit! If Chicago wins, we have a series!” And you can’t give a team like the ‘Hawks a chance to come back. So Chicago is starting to open the door. But then Filip Forsberg slams the door with two goals and gets the Nashville crowd (no Chicago invasion this time) to chant his name. And then rising star Kevin Fiala bolts the door shut in overtime. A 4-1 win in game 4 and that’s all she wrote!
So how did we do it? I’m happy to report that the late regular season surge we were on has continued. First of all, Pekka Rinne is playing out of his mind! His save rate so far in the playoffs is crazy! Three goals in four games! That’s one way to beat a #1 seed — stop them from scoring goals.
Despite his stats and the apparent opinion of the home crowd in game 4 (“Crawford! Crawford! Crawford… YOU SUCK!!!”) Corey Crawford did a good job himself. But Chicago was outpaced throughout this series, particularly by defensemen like P.K. Subban and Roman Josi. Even when we couldn’t get the puck, like we couldn’t in game 1, we were logjamming them and making it difficult for them to get a good shot. Throw in decent scoring and you understand how we got the sweep.
If the truth be told, we dominated that stat sheet in the 2015 series against Chicago as well. Even in the one stat that matters, both of the blowouts in that series favored us. We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities. We did this time. And so we get the sweep and advance to the second round.
We’ve got a bit of rest as we wait for the Blues to (probably) close things out against Minnesota. That could make the difference in whether we make the third round or not, but for now, I’m going to enjoy this moment. Welcome to Smashville!