Well, I had this whole thing pretty much written and then the news hit.
During last night's game, Ryan Johansen suffered a left thigh injury and needed surgery. He is out for the rest of the playoffs— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 19, 2017
This is absolutely devastating for the Preds chances to advance in the playoffs. Even if he didn’t have the best game last night, Ryan Johansen is the most important offensive player on the team, outside of Filip Forsberg.
This is as bad an injury as you could have had for this team.
But still, the Preds march on. They are still only two wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals. They still have the best blueline in the league. They still have a solid goalie in Pekka Rinne. They still have a good coach in Peter Laviolette. Time to go to work.
The Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks outplayed the Preds on Thursday. There’s no way around it.
For two periods, we saw the Ducks that we were worried about prior to the series. Offensive defensemen that can jump into the attack, quick transitions, skilled offensive players, and a really tight 1-3-1 defensive scheme that can be tough as nails to crack.
However, the Ducks did crumble under enough pressure. Despite winning the game in overtime, the last 10 minutes of regulation were as bad for the Ducks as the first 50 minutes were bad for the Preds:
The Ducks started taking bad penalties (as they do) which let the Preds right back into the game. P.K. Subban’s goal was essentially a power play goal, as it happened a few seconds after the penalty expired and while the Preds still had OZ possession.
Then there was Filip Forsberg’s game tying goal—a massive goal that followed a period of immense pressure for the Ducks. They had just killed off a gigantic 5-on-3 penalty and then had to deal with the Preds’ extra attacker. Viktor Arvidsson wins a puck behind the net, gets it Forsberg, who whacks at it a few times before it sneaks under John Gibson’s pads.
Pressure applied, cracks exposed, tie game.
This Ducks team has been a fairly inconsistent team in the playoffs. Look no further than the 7-1 loss to the Oilers in Game 6, which came just after the Ducks came back from a three goal deficit in Game 5. Then they looked like a tired team in Game 1 of this series with the Preds, only to overcome an early two goal deficit in Game 2. They did sweep the Flames, but I think that says more about the Flames than the Ducks.
My point: I think we can count on more inconsistency from the Ducks. They’ve shown us that much. What the Preds need to do is apply more pressure than they ever have.
Well, here we are, I guess.
The Predators will have to find a way past the Ducks without their top center and just after having lost home ice advantage.
I don’t really have much for you, here. The one thing I can assure you is that the Predators aren’t just going to roll over. They aren’t done fighting. They want to keep winning and they have great players still ready to fight for a championship.
The Predators will likely need to call upon at least one black ace to fill tonight’s lineup (please, please do this... I don’t want to watch Fiddler or Parenteau again) so if they do that, here’s my best guess at the lineup:
Arvidsson - Forsberg - Neal
Wilson - Jarnkrok - Smith/Harry Z
Aberg - Sissons - Gaudreau
Salomaki/McLeod - Kamenev - Watson
Remember, that even with this injury, the Preds still have the best blueline in the league. That hasn’t changed. This lineup could give some more speed to the lineup, even if it doesn’t have the skill of Johansen to threaten the Ducks.
Reasons to Watch
- Because we literally have no idea who will play and what will happen.
- Soup Game, part 2
- It’s the biggest game in franchise history and somehow just got bigger
The Important Details
Puck drop—6:15 PM Central
Radio—102.5 The Game