NHL Week in Review (May 28-June 3)

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Heading into the Stanley Cup Finals the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators were looking to impose their style on the other team to take a title.

The Penguins had a relentless attack with some of the best offensive talent in the league that was putting up a lot of points throughout the playoffs.

Nashville was hoping to shut down that attack with their great defence and goaltending that ranked as the best in the playoffs.

Whoever won that classic battle between offence and defence was going to find their way to the Stanley Cup.

It all depended on the right players contributing at the right times as both teams needed their stars to perform.

If those players couldn’t step up in the most important series of the season they were sure to falter and give the other team an advantage.

The first star to blink was the most important person for the Predators as Pekka Rinne was not the goalie he needed to be in the first two games.

Throughout the first part of the playoffs, Rinne was a major reason for the success of the Predators throughout the playoffs.

He had been the linchpin for the team for a long time and during their recent regular season success, he has gained the reputation of being one of the best in the league.

Every time they entered the playoffs he remained the player that they needed to step up if they wanted any success.

The problem was that they didn’t have much around him and when he eventually crumbled under the constant pressure they found themselves out of the playoffs.

The pattern continued this year as the Predators continued to climb through the playoffs thanks to his performance.

He has had a little more support with a better defensive lineup around him and had more support on the front end of the team.

Still, they needed Rinne to perform and he did so well throughout the first few rounds of the playoff.

He was an early favourite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy and has been a major reason for the team moving into the Cup Finals.hockey-sidebar

As the Finals started they still looked to Rinne again to help them get a good start to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Finals.

If they had a hope of beating the defending champions they would need their goalie to step up and be the best on the ice.

It didn’t turn out that way in the first two games though as Rinne struggled in his first appearance in the finals.

It could only be Rinne as the defence performed as well as they could perform limited the best offence to only 39 shots in the first two games.

There was a total of 30 minutes where the Pens couldn’t get a shot in Game 1 as they were truly shut down.

It was a dominant defensive performance by the Predators in the first two games and yet in both of those games, they couldn’t get the win.

Usually when limiting an offence that much there is no way that they can come out on top but the Penguins could.

They took both wins in the game largely thanks to the lack of performance by Rinne who was unable to stop the key shots.

He didn’t have to stand on his head in either of the games but still, couldn’t help them to a win.

In Game 3, Rinne finally began looking more like himself despite allowing an early goal he was the solid netminder they needed.

It helped them to find their way to their first win in the Stanley Cup Finals and making this a real series.

This is the Rinne that needs to show up for the rest of the series or the Predators could see their first Finals cut short pretty quickly.

Pittsburgh isn’t without their issues as they continue to struggle to produce on offence but they have the depth that makes a difference.

The Predators are based on defence and a key part of every defence is the goaltender who can make or break games.

Rinne is that goalie and if Game 3 is a sign of what is to come the Predators might make this a closer series than anyone expected.

 

Overtime

Carlyle Staying in Anaheim

The Anaheim Ducks have been one of the more successful teams over the last few years as they are constantly in the hunt. A few years ago they looked to get over the hump by signing Randy Carlyle to lead them behind the bench. That decision seems to be a popular one for the Ducks as they have signed Carlyle to an extension. It is not the most convincing extension though as he will only be back for one year in what seems more like a prove-it contract.

Pronger to the Office

He is not officially retired but the chances of Chris Pronger playing another game in the NHL are not very high. So he continues to look for new opportunities in the league which might take him to the south. The Florida Panthers are reportedly interested in the defenceman to work in their front office. Details are scarce but it seems like he will be working closely with GM Dave Tallon in what looks like the start to an executive career.

No Captain in Toronto

 The Toronto Maple Leafs went through the entire season with a very young team and didn’t see any of them as a strong candidate for the captaincy. The lack of experience was a big reason for that but they still had a great season. The Toronto executives don’t seem to see a reason to change the system with Lou Lamoriello claiming that the Maple Leafs will go another season without a captain.

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