Predators reach 1st Stanley Cup Final, oust Ducks in 6 games

Taylor Byrd
June 5, 2017

Doug Weight was traded from St. Louis to Carolina on January 30, 2006.

But after injuries to Johansen and second-line center Mike Fisher, coach Peter Laviolette chose to shuffle everything at the top, splitting up Forsberg and Arvidsson to try to spread out the firepower.

"I think, if you believe you're beaten, you're done already", Anderson said. "We practiced at a real high tempo for about the first 30 minutes of every practice".

"We went through a tremendous amount of adversity the last 72 hours losing two key guys in our lineup", Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban said.

In fact, the entire city of Nashville has become the Predators' home ice advantage as the city has become one huge cheering section.

Colton Sissons recorded a hat trick and goaltender Peka Rinne made 38 saves as the Nashville Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks 6-3 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.

When asked the significance of that achievement, Laviolette offered this self-deprecating quip.

"Probably means that I got fired a lot". "I'm fortunate to be here working and fortunate (general manager) David Poile gave me a job". "And to do it with three teams is pretty special". He won the title with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and lost with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010.

"Jarnkrok and I had a bit of a 2-on-2", Sissons said.

Mind you, this is all secondary to the action on the ice, but it certainly doesn't hurt the sport when a market with the star power of a Nashville gets on board. He's got so many tricks up his sleeves. They're missing their best player as well.

Said Rinne, the longest-tenured Predator: "In the back of your head, you've been thinking about the Final, and then when the buzzer goes off, it's an incredible feeling". I still can't say, type or think that phrase without a certain sense on unreality, a sense of really??? "That hasn't happened for us, ever before". They lost their top center, Ryan Johansen, for the playoffs after Game 4 because of emergency surgery on his left thigh.

Emotion will get you so far, but Whitney said Laviolette is also a skilled bench coach who is constantly juggling lines, looking for the right mix, constantly tinkering with his matchups, watching film in between periods and relying heavily on assistant coach Kevin McCarthy, who has been with him at all three stops.

"Our guys know the big picture", he said of his Predators.

"I can't speak enough for just our whole group".

Either way, hold onto your cowboy hats hockey fans, the Stanley Cup final is coming to Smashville. Everybody feels like they're a part of it.

The Predators face one more test in their final playoff series of 2017 (without Johansen).

The Predators will play either defending champion Pittsburgh or Ottawa for the Stanley Cup.

Not only that, but the Pens, who are leading the series at 3-2 heading into Tuesday's matchup, have a chance to put the Senators away for good in Game 6 despite a roster completely inundated with injuries, including but not limited to Patric Hornqvist, Justin Schultz, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust.

But Rinne never cracked, and the league's lowest playoff seed - Nashville's 94 points were the fewest of all 16 postseason participants - completed its improbable run to franchise history.

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