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Ducks Series Recap

Rachel Rosato Rachel Rosato

It started with an 8-bit refresh:

Rachel Rosato
and ended with reason to celebrate:

All that stress and drama in-between?  Well, it was late at night, and we’ve all slept it off, right?

Here’s what “The Warden” Mark Hollingsworth had to say about it all:

Ohhhhhh…somebody make me a sweet tomata sammich!!! The Preds come back from being down 3 games to 2 to win the final pair, thus eliminating the Schmucks and moving onward to Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a gutsy 2-1 thriller in Micky Mouse Land last night.

Pekka “The Eraser” Rinne was, indeed, golden between the pipes for the the Smashcats, stopping 36 of 37 Anaheim attempts (97%). He was absolutely Herculean in these final 2 contests, turning away 62 of 64 shots. Besides the myriad good saves and rebound control, his puck-handling was pure throughout the contest–cutting off numerous Duckling shoot-ins behind the net, and making wise passing decisions on numerous occasions.

The team defense was bracing, too, blocking 24 shot attempts, as well as repeatedly deflecting or intercepting innumerable passes. Addionally, I’m not sure I have ever seen a team so willing to absorb the punishment of copious blows as they paid the price in lifting the puck out of the D-Zone with grit and skill over and over and over throughout the night. There were at least a handful of instances where there were up to 4 Preds diving on the ice trying to protect the crease around Pekks when some scrums were underway. They were simply not going to let the malevolent mallards generate many scoring attempts.

It truly was a team win with every single player making contributions in their own ways. But I’ll point out a few individual efforts: Cap’n Shea led by example with an assist, 4 hits, a block, and just plain solid positioning around the net. Josi proved why he is one of the best shot blockers in the world with a game-high 7 deflections (overall the team out-blocked the Orange Barrels 24-10). Gaustad had the terrific redirected goal that proved to be the game winner (hence it was truly a game of “Duck-Duck-Goose”) and had a lofty 71% success rate in the face-off circle. Willie continued his playoff prowess with his tremendous eye-to-hand coordination controlling a bouncing puck to lift a deft backhand shot over a hapless Andersen to take the lead in the first period. Salty had some massive hits (one in particular into the boards on that cretin, Perry, in the third) that set the tone. Jackman was outstanding in his calm resolve, making consistently good decisions on defense.

Pred fans should be proud of the 4 rookies who played with grit and grace in their first Game 7: Bitetto, Arvidsson, Sissons, and Salomaki. They all logged important minutes and were spirited, yet responsible in their efforts.

Less than 10% of the North American hockey media experts/pundits picked the Preds to win this series. In fact, many of them christened Anaheim as their favorite to win the Cup this year. But the Mighty Sucks have now solidified themselves as certified choke artists: In their last 4 playoff appearances since 2012, they have blown 3-2 series leads, and lost Game 7 on HOME ice. That has to be a pro record in any sport for futility in the clutch. Coach Boudreau now has a 1-7 career record in Game 7’s, whereas the Preds’ Coach Laviolette improves to 5-1 in Game 7’s. Methinks Boudreau and his staff will all be unemployed by the end of this day, and that some rebuilding will be in order…but, all of that is THEIR problem….the Predators are heading on the the second round against the Sharts up the coast in San Jose! Game 1 is Friday night at 9 PM Central Time on NBCSN (Comcast 50 in Nashville). The emotional carryover while starting directly in the next series should actually benefit the Men in Gold. This is going to be another terrific series.

That’s 4 down and 12 more to go to earn the silver Cup, boys! Let’s go Preds!