James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Carlyle on Predators crashing Ducks’ net, big shots difference in Game 3


Rather than balking at the challenge, the Nashville Predators responded to a 1-0 deficit and a great John Gibson performance by just imposing their will in an eventual 2-1 Game 3 win.

The Predators overcame back-to-back canceled-out goals in that rush to succeed, and there are at least some who wonder if they were crashing Gibson’s net in a way that wasn’t quite innocent.

(Granted, every team kind of sort of goes for that … just some tend to collide with netminders more than others. And sometimes it seems a little more intentional than others.)

You can watch the two negated goals in the video above.

Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle didn’t provide bulletin board material on the subject like Ryan Johansen did regarding Ryan Kesler, but his comments were still interesting:

Again, intriguing, but not sassy. Carlyle was far sassier in disputing the Predators’ mammoth shot differential in Game 3, which was listed as a 40-20 shot edge in Nashville’s favor.

Carlyle thought the shot counter might need glasses, prompting onlookers to make less-than-flattering comparisons to his days with the Toronto Maple Leafs. To Carlyle’s credit, he still admitted that the game was pretty lopsided at times.

One would expect a more aggressive Anaheim attack in Game 4, even with that contest in Nashville. Considering Corey Perry‘s notorious crease-crashing tendencies, Pekka Rinne may also want to be alert.

You can watch Game 4 on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App (Click here for the livestream).

Predators’ elite defense dominated Ducks in Game 3


Going into the 2016-17 season, the Nashville Predators were a chic choice for the Stanley Cup because of their deep, talented defense. That advantage has manifested itself the most during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, especially so in their 2-1 Game 3 win against the Anaheim Ducks.

Really, it only makes sense that Roman Josi scored the game-winner.

As strong as some of the Predators forwards are – particularly the top line of Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson – and as great as Pekka Rinne‘s been at times, the Preds’ defense has made a remarkably deep Ducks blueline look quite normal at times during the Western Conference Final.

Some of the stats are absolutely eye-popping, whether you judge them by Game 3:

Or if you zoom out and consider the entire postseason:

The key is that Peter Laviolette can deploy two extremely strong pairings where most teams are lucky to boast one.

Josi scored the game-winner and P.K. Subban has stolen a game or two already for Nashville, but Ryan Ellis has been outstanding (including a ridiculous nine shots on goal and an assist in Game 3) and Mattias Ekholm remains one of the NHL’s hidden gems.

Even the bottom pairing of Yannick Weber and Matt Irwin has its moments.

There will be times when the Predators defense looks mortal. It’s possible that an also-quite-strong Ducks group may grab the advantage at times in this series.

Still, there are moments when you just have to step back and shake your head at what Nashville’s managed to accomplish. It’s the sort of thing that inspires GM of the Year nominations.

Count it: Predators overwhelm Ducks for 2-1 series lead


The frustration kept building for the Nashville Predators in Game 3. But much like the Penguins on Monday, the Predators just wouldn’t relent; they were eventually rewarded with a 2-1 win.

That Game 3 score also reflects the Western Conference Final, as the Predators hold a 2-1 series lead after grinding out a tough win.

Nashville generated a gaudy 40-20 shot advantage on Tuesday, yet for quite some time, it seemed like their efforts wouldn’t pay off. Corey Perry made it 1-0 for the Ducks, inspiring a villainous reaction from Jared Boll.

MORE on the physical play in Game 3 here

The Predators couldn’t seem to solve John Gibson … until Filip Forsberg finally broke through. Soon after, the frustration continued for Nashville, as would-be 2-1 tallies were canceled out by successive goalie interference calls.

It was an exciting, sometimes-nasty game, with Roman Josi finally scoring the Predators’ first power-play goal of the series to win the contest.

Nashville’s defense was a difference-maker on Tuesday, in particular. Read about that here.

The Predators have won all six games at home in Nashville so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with this latest one making for that 2-1 series lead.

Game 4 takes place at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN on Thursday. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App (Click here for the livestream).

Video: Preds’ McLeod fights Ducks’ Boll after another big hit on Harry Z

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The second period of Game 2 has been pretty brutal for the Nashville Predators.

While they enjoyed a touch of luck in seeing a near-goal fall through for the Anaheim Ducks, the Bridgestone Arena crowd hasn’t had much to cheer about in Game 2. The Predators have been hammering pucks John Gibson‘s way for much of the first 40 minutes to no avail.

For one thing, Corey Perry scored a 1-0 goal from an angle that Pekka Rinne will likely regret. To be fair, scorers are exploiting strange angles more and more frequently this season.

If that wasn’t frustrating enough, consider why the Ducks received a power play. Jared Boll delivered the second big hit of the night on Harry Zolnierczyk, who left the ice. Cody McLeod received an instigator penalty for starting a fight with Boll in defense of “Harry Z.”

You can see that hit and penalty in the video above this post’s headline. Here’s the other painful moment for Zolnierczyk:

Remarkably, the journeyman forward returned during the same second period.

Boll’s reaction to the 1-0 goal won’t earn him any Predators fans.

Ducks’ Manson delivers high hit on Predators’ Arvidsson (Video)


The Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators remain locked at 0-0 as of this writing, but there have been plenty of shots fired.

In most cases, that’s literal; the Predators, in particular, have sent a lot of pucks at John Gibson. There have been some questionable checks, too, particularly when Ducks defenseman Josh Manson was whistled for high-sticking on Viktor Arvidsson.

Some believed that the check warranted more than a minor penalty. On the bright side, it seems like Arvidsson is OK.

It wasn’t the only debatable hit, either, as Nate Thompson delivered this check on Harry Zolnierczyk from the first period: