Just before the game, I said that the Preds would not be able to go far in the playoffs or this series on goaltending alone and Detroit would push this series to seven games if they continued to do so. Nashville responded by putting together their strongest performance of the playoffs by far and closing out their series with Detroit in five games.
I have to hand it to Nashville because I thought they wouldn't get past the first round but they proved me wrong and then some, especially tonight. Had they won purely due to goaltending I might be singing a different tune but that wasn't the case tonight. The Preds were strongly attacking the offensive zone for the first two periods and managed to sustain pressure for prolonged periods of time. That led to them creating more scoring chances and they eventually ended up exhausting the Red Wings because they had them pinned in their own end for most of the game.
This is the way the Predators need to play if they are going to be Cup contenders and they certainly looked like they could be tonight. Whenever you can limit a team like Detroit to only eight total scoring chances, you know you are playing some damn good hockey. Let's see if this carries over into the next round.
Scoring chance breakdown after the jump
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Detroit's chances are in red, Nashville's are in white
What a turn of events this game was. For the last two games, Nashville was getting beaten down at even strength but they completely turned the tables on Detroit in game 5, which happened to be just the right time to do so. The Predators have been starting off games strong this series and they did just that tonight with eight scoring chances, which matches their game total from Wednesday, and the difference here is that they just kept attacking Detroit instead of sitting on their lead. It also helped that they played fantastic defense in the third period and held the Red Wings to only two scoring chances during that frame. Detroit's always a strong possession team and average at least 15 chances per game so Nashville's defense deserves a lot of credit for their effort tonight.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: David Legwand & Gabriel Bourque +6
Worst EV Forward: Andrei Kostitsyn & Nick Spaling -3
Best EV Defenseman: Ryan Suter +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Kevin Klein EVEN
David Legwand and Alexander Radulov have been two of Nashville's best forwards during this series and they were amazing tonight. These two made an impact whenever they were on the ice whether it was by freeing up space for linemates or creating scoring chances. Radulov has definitely made his presence felt this series, but Legwand has quietly been the Predators best forward and he showed that tonight. The fact that these two were on ice for zero scoring chances despite starting slightly more shifts in the defensive zone speaks volumes about their play, too. Bourque also had a great game, but he was sent out in the offensive zone a lot more than his linemates.
One guy who barely sees the offensive zone is Paul Gaustad and he was terrific in limited ice-time. He started 10 shifts in the defensive zone and was on ice for only one scoring chance. That's very impressive, but something that may have been more impressive was Mike Fisher's line completely neutralizing Pavel Datsyuk at even strength.
Ryan Suter and Shea Weber also played a big role in keeping Datsyuk off the scoresheet as they had their best game of the series defensively. The entire d-corps had a pretty good game but Klein did give up a bit in his own end.
Best EV Forward: Valteri Filppula & Jiri Hudler +3
Worst EV Forward: Todd Bertuzzi -7
Best EV Defenseman: Ian White +1
Worst EV Defenseman: Jonathan Ericsson -6
The Red Wings had only one line going for them and that's not going to win you a lot of playoff games. This was strange to see because Detroit had at least two lines per game that were creating scoring chances, but they had nothing going tonight outside of Hudler, Zetterberg & Filppula. It also didn't help that Detroit's best player, Pavel Datsyuk, was completely invisible tonight and it didn't matter who Mike Babcock tried to pair him with. It seemed like Datsyuk was stuck playing defense for most of the game as he was struggling to get the puck out of his own end and couldn't seem to get anything going no matter what.
While Datsyuk's line was invisible, their third line was simply atrocious. Drew Miller has played well for most of the series but he was just horrendous tonight in his own zone and Todd Bertuzzi was a disaster whenever he got near the puck.
Nick Lidstrom also had a pretty rough night at even strength as he and Jonathan Ericsson were on ice for about half of the Predators even strength scoring chances. Just about every Wings defenseman had a rough night with the exception of Ian White and, to a lesser extent, Kyle Quincey. The latter was guilty of some careless turnovers and looked awful on Radulov's goal.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
- The Bourque-Legwand-Radulov line outchanced all of their matchups and played very well against the Zetterberg line, which was Detroit's only effective unit tonight. Detroit simply didn't have an answer for this line all game.
- Datsyuk was hard-matched against Mike Fisher and the latter ended up winning that battle. Also check out Weber/Suter's work against that line. Impressive work from the Nashville heavy-lifters.
- The only line the Red Wings could take advantage of was the third line of Kostitsyn-Spaling-Hornqvist. Hell, even Bertuzzi managed to outchance that line.
- Paul Gaustad took a lot of draws in his own zone but he was kept away from the big guns of Detroit for the most part.
Congratulations to the Predators on the series win. They definitely earned it with their performance in game 5.