Monday, May 22, 2017

On The Brink

The Nashville Predators put on a gutsy performance Saturday evening, winning 3-1 over the Ducks in Anaheim.  They were without their top 2 centres.  We already knew on Friday that Ryan Johansen's season was done, having injured his leg in game 4, that required surgery.
He suffered an acute compartment syndrome of the left thigh.

Mike Fisher was also hurt in game 4.  The Predators' captain was struck in the jaw by an errant knee from Ducks defenceman, Josh Manson, jumped in an attempt to bat a puck that was in the air.

The Ducks had their own injury woes, as the team's second leading scorer in the playoffs, Rickard Rakell, with a lower body injury.  He won't be ready to play in game 6, nor Patrick Eaves, who also has a lower body injury.

Of even greater concern would be the status of the team's starting netminder.  John Gibson left after the first period in game 5.  No reason was given, but it was suggested that he might have injured his right knee when video replay showed he might have stretched out his right leg awkwardly against the post.  He commented that he would be ready to go for game 6 following the game, though head coach, Randy Carlyle, was non-committal until Gibson was evaluated by team doctors.

Nashville now have the chance to punch their ticket to their very first Stanley Cup Final appearance at home.  There shouldn't be an empty seat in the building, with every single fan decked out in yellow.

Not to jinx them or anything, but when the regular season started way back in October, the Nashville Predators were predicted by EA Sports to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.  They were once game predicted to win before the playoffs began using the 16 teams that made the post season.  Five more wins and those predictions become true.


Part of the story line during the Eastern Conference Final were all the injuries to key players in which the Pittsburgh Penguins were having to deal with.  They've gotten some of them back as the series went on, while others went on the IR.  

Now, it's the other way around.  Three very important players for the Senators left the game early.  Erick Karlsson, Cody Ceci, and Derick Brassard were all done after the second period.  It's would be a huge blow for Ottawa if any of them, let alone all three, were unavailable for game 6, as they face elimination.  Even with them, they would be in tough as the Penguins have finally figured them out.

More than Matt Murray providing the Penguins' solid netminding as he took over for Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh were able to finally break through Ottawa's frustrating defence, mainly by taking the lead in game 4, forcing Ottawa to open things up, which played right into the more skillful Penguins.  Ottawa eventually scored twice in the third period, but were unable to tie the game up, losing 3-2.

In game 5, Ottawa did themselves in.  Turnovers, turnovers, and more turnovers lead to goals by Pittsburgh.  They had 4 before the 1st period was over, chasing Sens' goalie, Craig Anderson, twice.  Once after the Penguins took a 3-0 at the sixteen minute mark, then for good after the 1st intermission.

Before we go on saying the Senators' Cinderella run will be coming to an end, we should remember how resilient the team has been through this years playoffs.  They have come back in games to win in overtime.  People thought they were done after being embarrassed by the New York Rangers in games 3 and 4 of the second round.  They bounced back to reach the Eastern Conference Final.

It will be tough.  Tougher if the team loses any of its top players.  But, it's not entirely impossible that there will be a game 7 back in Pittsburgh.  Know this: Ottawa will bring it at home on Tuesday.

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