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.
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.