The Chicago Blackhawks scored only 3 goals against the Nashville predators, becoming the first #1 seed to be swept by a WC2 seed. What caused such a high-ranked team to fall apart so spectacularly in the playoffs?
#1 Pekka Rinne
This one should’t need much explanation, just a heap of praise. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne managed to shut out one of the best offenses in hockey on their own ice. Twice. Rinne, at 34 years old, allowed only 3 goals in the entire series – the same amount as Nashville did in period 3 of game 4. Saving 123 of 126 shots gave Rinne an amazing .974 save percentage on the series, which leads all goalies in the playoffs so far (minimum 1 game). Rinne also got two assists on the series, both in the Predators 5-0 rout of the Blackhawks in Game 2. Edmonton’s Cam Talbot is the only other goalie with a point this playoffs. The Predators are blessed to have a player like Rinne between the posts.
#2 The Blackhawks Offense
Give credit to Pekka Rinne for his amazing goaltending, but he had plenty of help from how awful the Blackhawks’ offense actually was. Patrick Kane, who scored 89 points in the regular season, only had 1 goal and 1 assist in the four-game series. His one goal, a power-play goal in game 3, came despite Kane taking 23 shots on the series. That’s an abysmal 4% shooting percentage. Dis-honorable mentions go to Marian Hossa and Artemi Panarin, who had 0% shooting on 15 and 11 shots, respectively. In the entire series, the Blackhawks had 1 even strength goal.
#3 Johansen, Forsberg, and Arvidsson
Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and Viktor Arvidsson had a massive combined +/- of +22 for Nashville across the series. These three young guns carried the Predators through the series with their absolute offensive dominance. Johansen had 5 assists and had an extremely efficient 1 goal on 2 shots in the series. Forsberg and Arvidsson had 2 goals each, with 3 and 2 assists respectively. These three combined scored 5 times the even-strength goals as the entire Blackhawks as the Predators scored 12 total even-strength goals in the series. The Predators managed to make history and defy expectations, and have already made a huge splash in the playoffs this year.
The 4th String team.