Valtteri Filppula of the Red Wings skates in on Dan Ellis of the Predators during Game 6. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
It was a fitting, if unfortunate culprit that did in the plucky Nashville Predators in their now-finished series against the Detroit Red Wings: bad, bad luck.
I mean bad luck. We’re talking homophobe-wandering-into-an-Erasure-concert bad.
It was bad luck – and perhaps more, he wrote, staring suspiciously in the direction of a wonky, discombobulated franchise transfer process – that forced the Preds to strip their roster of precious talent in the name of financial necessity last summer.
It was bad luck – and perhaps more, he wrote, staring suspiciously in the direction of Predators forward Alexander Radulov – that a seemingly innocent goal celebration took Jason Arnott, one of Nashville’s leaders, out of Games 5 and 6 with what whispers said was post-concussion syndrome.
And on a Sunday in Tennessee, it was bad luck that caused the Preds to lose Game 6 of their first-round series against Detroit and gave the Wings a 4-2 series win.
Though Game 6’s final score was 3-0 for the visitors, the Preds lost ostensibly because of a Nicklas Lidstrom shot from behind center ice that took an unlikely bounce over goalie Dan Ellis’ shoulder and into the net for the first (and game-winning) goal of the afternoon.
Up until that point (nearly two-thirds into the second period), the Preds were still very much in the game. But it was easy to spot the wind leaving their collective sail after that and the Red Wings, not willing to waste a gift from the hockey gods, clamped down nice and tight on their opponents the rest of the way.
Now, there was more to Detroit’s role in the victory than just luck. They unloaded a barrage of rubber (43 shots, to be exact) at Ellis – out-shooting Nashville 21-4 in the second frame – and Chris Osgood was up to the task in net for them when he had to be, stopping 20 Preds shots for his 11th career playoff shutout.
But this is also not to say the Red Wings come out of the series closely resembling a can’t-miss Cup contender. Their streakiness was again exposed and may a higher power help them if Osgood falters in the same way Dominik Hasek did in Games 3 and 4.
On the bright side, at least they get to keep the equipment out of storage. The Preds do not – and, despite a future that will be more than decent-looking if ownership comes through on the salary side, it’ll likely kill them all summer to know fate and/or circumstance denied them the opportunity to keep playing.
THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
Adam Proteau is The Hockey News' online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays and Fridays, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.