I have been a bit behind with getting the scoring chances up in time for this series due to cable problems and Game Center's 48 hour blackout. I do have the first four games tracked, though and this really has been a strange series. The refs are calling just about anything (aside from that little Shea Weber thing that I'm sure you all know about) so there have been a lot of powerplays between both teams and neither team has been able to take advantage of their opportunities with the man advantage.
The Predators had the "league's best" powerplay during the regular season and it was expected that their success their would go down since it was driven by a high shooting percentage and guess what? It has. Nashville's powerplay is only clicking at 10.9% this post-season but luckily for them, Detroit's hasn't been much better at only 19%.
With both teams not being able to score much with the man advantage, even strength play and goaltending are likely going to be the deciding factors in this series. The Preds have a 3-1 series lead because they've been getting outstanding goaltending from Pekka Rinne while Jimmy Howard of the Red Wings has the lowest save percentage of any goalie in the playoffs outside of that circus in Pennsylvania.
Nashville appears to have a stranglehold on this series but after the jump, we'll look at why Detroit might have a comeback up their sleeves.
Running into a hot goalie can sink any team's playoff hopes and that's what is happening to the Wings right now. It may seem like they are on the ropes right now but something that might be getting overlooked is that the Preds are getting run over in just about every other category other than goaltending. That is evident in the scoring chance data.
The Red Wings are winning the battle at even strength by a wide margin and are also producing a good amount of chances on their powerplay while not giving up a ton on the penalty kill. Nashville has been getting off to strong starts in most of their games, but they are getting help from a lot of first period powerplays and aren't producing much offense in the 2nd or 3rd periods. I know bad starts can kill a team's confidence, but Detroit has been playing better overall and I think they have a chance to at least push this series to seven games. The difference is that Nashville is simply dominating Detroit in the goaltending battle.
A save percentage of .946 isn't sustainable in the long run and relying on only goaltending isn't the best way to win games when you are getting outchanced this badly, but Nashville has been able to get pretty far on Rinne's back this season so we'll see what happens.
Now let's take a quick look at the individual numbers from this series.
|Player||5v5 SCF||5v5 SCA||PP SCF||SH SCA||SC+/-|
Detroit's been getting some solid play from their bottom-six with Drew Miller being quietly productive at even strength. Datsyuk has been winning the battle against Mike Fisher's line pretty nicely and he's been able to outchance the Weber/Suter pairing, as well. Zetterberg has also played well at even strength but he's been a lot more dangerous on the powerplay. Same goes for Nick Lidstrom, who hasn't been killing penalties at all but he's been doing everything else well.
The only Detroit players who haven't been playing well at all this series are Todd Bertuzzi, Brad Stuart and to an extent, Niklas Kronwall. Kronwall has done some good work on special teams but both him and Brad Stuart haven't been impressive at all in 5-on-5 play, especially compared to the rest of the team.
|Player||5v5 SCF||5v5 SCA||PP SCF||SH SCA||SC +/-|
Andrei Kostitsyn, Alex Radulov and David Legwand have been creating the most scoring chances for Nashville among forwards. The older Kostitsyn has actually been very productive this sereis both at even strength and on the powerplay. Gabriel Bourque is also having a nice series but three of the scoring chances he's been on ice for were goals, so that shows you that the bounces are going his way.
Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are playing a ton of minutes as usual and have been creating and surrendering a lot of scoring chances a result. Both of them have pretty similar numbers in all three areas and they are getting outchanced by a good amount. Although, they are performing a lto better than some of their other defensemen. Roman Josi was good in game 1, but his play has dropped off a bit since. Kevin Klein has two goals but he's been on ice for nearly half of the Red Wings' even strength scoring chances.
The Preds really are playing with fire this series because it's one thing to get outshot when you're playing with a lead, but to give up over 12 chances per game at even strength while only creating 7 is dangerous against a team like Detroit. I am interested to see how this series closes out because the Preds have a chance to end it tonight, but Detroit can easily make this go to seven games if they can get some better goaltending from Howard.