The Nashville Predators eliminated the Detroit Red Wings in their first round match up in five games. The Predators now await the outcome of the other first round series to finish to determine their second round opponent.
Looking back over the series, there were several critical factors that led the Predators to victory. Here are some of the keys to the Predators victory over the Wings:
You Can't Shoot the Puck Through a Wall
Any discussion of the Predators success starts with this guy:
You Win Championships With Defense
The Red Wings looked at the Predators defense and saw something that looked like this:
In every playoff series, there is a player or players that rise to the occasion. Not the usual suspects, but someone that unexpectedly elevates their game and swings a series in the favor of their team. There were two Predators that filled this role:
The other player that excelled on the big stage was this guy:
Home Wasn't So Sweet
The Predators had never won a playoff game at the Joe Louis Arena, and after the Wings eked out a 3-2 win in the second game at Bridgestone Arena, the hope among Predator fans was for the team to go to Detroit and just win one game. There is no doubt that the Wings are tough at home, and earlier this season had set a record for consecutive home wins. It was going to be a monumental task for the Predators. Here is a visual of what happened:
The Predators Got Over This
In the playoffs, the Detroit Red Wings represented this to the Predators:
A lot of credit belongs to these guys:
There are other factors that were critical to the Predators capturing this series. The play of Alexander Radulov (5 points in 5 games) changed the balance of the contest. Contributions from Paul Gaustad in the face off dot, Mike Fisher and Marty Erat with solid defense and timely assists, and Sergei Kostitsyn with the game winning goal in game 3 stand out. The fact remains that this was a team win.
That first round series was fun, wasn't it? Now it is on to the second round, and new challenges await. The Predators will have another milestone to achieve, and that is to win a second round series.
It will take all these attributes as well as contributions from everyone that puts on the sweater to achieve that goal.
I can't wait.