This is one of a few recurring playoff matchups for Nashville in our short history. But the clashes with the Ducks have been different from those with the Red Wings, Blackhawks, and Sharks because we’ve never lost a series to this team. One of those two victories over them wasn’t even the classic Game 7 loss the Ducks used to keep having.
At any rate, despite how dirty the Ducks can play at times I do have some respect for them right now. If we proved unworthy of the media praise until the playoffs began, the Ducks were better than anyone would have imagined. firing Bruce Beaudreau and going back to the guy they had before Bruce seems lampoon-able, but they are in the Western Conference Finals.
It’s not said in hockey news as much as the Caps’ latest inability to get past even a severely beat-up Penguins team or whether the Pens can still do it all with those injuries, but the whisper about how Pekka Rinne is playing out of this world can be heard. As someone who has actually been watching the games, he really has been playing as well as the .951 save percentage he’s put up in the playoffs so far. Defensemen like Roman Josi and P.K. Subban remain as good as ever, blocking many shots, creating turnovers, and even scoring on their own. This is the Preds team as it was hyped up to be after the trade for Subban, not the .500 team that we actually got in the regular season.
The Ducks’ path to a deep playoff run has been quite a bit different. John Gibson has been playing badly as their goalie. Don’t let last night’s Game 7 vs. Edmonton fool you. The Ducks are not very good on defense. They do, however, score lots and lots of goals with a firing squad spearheaded by Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell. Thus, we have classic offense vs. defense meeting.
I can’t have certainty here because I’m not a believer in the “defense wins championships” line of thought. I’d argue that this happens 55-62% of the time. Certainly not a definitive statement. recent examples of defensive powerhouses in other sports failing in the big one include the 2014 Seahawks, 2015-2016 Golden State, and 2012 49ers. So I don’t think “defense beats offense, Preds in 6” is the way to go.
That said, despite the different coach, the book on beating the Ducks remains the same: Keep the pace down and intercept the puck so their forwards can’t ball out, They will still probably struggle to come from behind if they have to because of our puck-hogging defensemen.
Here’s hoping for a good series and a Stanley Cup Finals appearance for the Preds. Welcome to Smashville!