The Hockey News’ NHL Playoff Recap gives you our take of what happened in each game of the night and what the consequences will be for the rest of the series.
We also provide our Three Stars of the games, which will be tabulated after each round. First Star is three points, Second Star is two points and Third Star is one point. Be sure to vote on who you think the first star was as well.
Of course, there’s the other side of the coin: The Black Hole is a piece of the lineup that just couldn’t get it going on a given night and contributed to a difficult evening for the team.
THN’s Take: Full marks to Ryan Kesler…er…the Canucks team for upending a feisty Predators bunch in Game 6, but there are plenty of lessons to be learned heading into the conference final.
First and foremost, others must step up. Kesler was an absolute beast Monday night as he was throughout the series, but he was the only standout. Vancouver won’t be able to pop a couple and then shut ‘er down the way it did against Nashville. San Jose or Detroit are too offensively skilled for Vancouver to sit back after getting a lead. The philosophy must be attack, no matter what the scoreboard reads. Vancouver was the No. 1 offensive team in the league during the regular season and that certainly wasn’t on display in Game 6, just as it wasn’t for most of the series.
Another trait that went the way of the dodo as the game progressed was the Canucks’ physicality. The bodies wearing blue were getting banged early on, but the pacifistic nature of the visitor’s game hurt Vancouver’s energy level. A full, and consistent, dose of nasty will go a long way towards success in Round 3.
Finally and specifically, the Canucks were dreadful in transitioning out of their own end on many occasions, which, not surprisingly, played a role in the fact they mustered only 19 total shots and nine through two periods. The ‘D’ corps turned the puck over multiple times under little pressure. A performance like that against a skilled squad, the likes of which they’ll face next round, will surely result in a loss (especially if Roberto Luongo continues to look shaky).
For the Predators, a lot of positives and proof they have all but one of the parts necessary to compete with the West’s elite. Unfortunately, the missing component isn’t one found with a snap of the fingers. Nashville desperately needs an offensive producer or three to take the next step. (And they should probably lock up RFA-to-be Shea Weber, too, since he’s on the precipice of being the game’s best blueliner, if he isn’t already.)
1. Ryan Kesler – Cliche, yes, but he really was dangerous every time he was on the ice. Relentless in his puck-chase, willing to mix it up and an assist on the game-winner. Kesler’s doing it all.
2. Shea Weber – Played nearly half the game (26 minutes) and was again excellent in a shut-down role on the Sedins.
3. Dan Hamhuis – A solid game overall, but gets the nod especially for his shot-block with the net gaping behind him on the Preds’ first power play. A goal there gets the crowd into it, gives Nashville momentum and completely changes the game.
The Black Hole
Martin Erat – Did he play? Oh, yup, there’s his name on the summary with a minus-1. Not a single shot for the team’s leading scorer in the regular season.
The NHL Game Night Recap will get you caught up with all the playoff action. THN will name our Three Stars for each game and tabulate the results after each series. First Star = three points, Second Star = two points, Third Star = one point.