Does the fact the Predators just ran through the Western Conference make their sweep against the Hawks easier to stomach? I suppose a little. Had they biffed it to St. Louis, things would probably feel a little different.
I’ll say this for Sam…in our playoff preview podcast, he didn’t think it would take more than 15 games for the Hawks to make it through the West. He was close; he just had the wrong team. As we discussed in that podcast way back when, the playoffs were never more shallow than they were this year. Perhaps that’s why the Hawks getting bounced in 4 stung a bit more. It was only until this series where the Predators were truly tested and even then, it’s still Anaheim. Not exactly a core known for going out on their shields.
To be fair, the Ducks deserved a better fate in last night’s tilt and were done in by an in-over-his head Jonathan Bernier. Bernier did his team no favors by putting them in two two-goal deficits. Not helping matters was allowing a very soft goal in the first two minutes of the game which allowed the Preds and their fans to continue to work themselves into a frenzy.
To their credit, the Ducks were able to fight back finally only to see the lead handed right back to the Predators on one of their first shots on goal since Anaheim tied it. You can only do so much with 20,000 strong slobbering all over themselves. Or Filip Forsberg clearing attempt that took fourteen crazy bounces before heading towards an empty net to seal your fate.
Sometimes, there’s no stopping what is meant to be.
Make no mistake, the Predators have lived a charmed life in this postseason (minus their injuries to key players) and their first empty net goal of the night was another perfect example. Starting with Rinne diving back to save a puck that was headed towards his empty cage in Game 3 versus the Hawks and continuing through tonight, it’s all come up Nashville thus far. That’s not to say they don’t work hard or didn’t deserve to make this far. They certainly do. There was no team more worthy in the West this spring.
You could make an argument for Anaheim but they are literally too stupid to insult. Besides, you reap what you sow when you lose a Game 5 on home ice in a tied series.
–A Pittsburgh/Nashville Final would definitely be the most interesting of options left for the 500 people in other markets who still give a crap. I’m not sure the Predators could keep up with the Penguins, what with their battered offensive lineup…but the Penguins aren’t exactly a beacon of good health these days either. Which is sort of what Sam was saying the other day. This playoffs, more than any I can directly recall, have become this war of attrition where teams are digging through forwards 14, 15 and 16 on the depth chart to fill out lineups.
I don’t think this has become a trend yet – just last year the Sharks and Penguins had everyone who mattered playing in the Final. But it bears watching as we move forward.
–One thing Hawk (or Chicago, in general) fans can learn from Predator fans is how to truly enjoy the moment. Of all the excitement in this postseason, there hasn’t been much consternation about this upcoming offseason and the contract extensions that await Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson. One thing that’s always bugged me when the Hawks were making their deep runs was the impending doom that followed any success.
“Uh oh, Bryan Bickell scored again. Add another million to his cap hit.”
“Brandon Saad is so good. The Hawks are going to have to pay up.”
“Will someone send an offer sheet to Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane?”
Like, who cares, Scooby? Meanwhile, the Hawks are playing meaningful, exciting games in the summer. As if there was nothing else worth discussing. I truly think this is more of a Chicago fandom type exercise than something strictly related to hockey and Hawk fans. The reason I believe this to be true – In October, I saw Sam’s head spin a full 360 degrees like Regan Macneil when someone had the audacity to ask him about next year’s Cub lineup on the eve of Game 6 of the NLCS.
–Seems like enough for now. Hopefully the Penguins finish off the James Bond villian-led Senators tonight in homage to Roger Moore (skypoint) tonight and we can get one step closer to the off season.