Next step for Predators: Getting beyond second round

Posted April 30, 2017

There's no need for flowery language here. Scouts and analysts praised Laviolette's game plan that denied the talented Blackhawks quality chances in the first round, forcing them to generate much of their attack from the perimeter.

Do the Predators have everybody's attention now? I don't think the Blackhawks necessarily suffered from a lack of effort, but there was definitely a lack of energy that made them mortal.

Yes, it's only a first-round series victory. They can advance with a win in Game 6 on Saturday.

The Blackhawks have roughly $70 million in salary dedicated to next season's salary cap, according to CapFriendly.com, giving them very little wiggle room to do anything significant when it comes to roster moves.

This is the crowning achievement in franchise history.

Colton Sissons provided the second goal of the game and was assisted by Viktor Arvidsson and Ellis. That feeling did not attach itself to this year's playoff Blackhawks. The loose puck found its way behind the net, keeping San Jose's hopes of winning the game alive a bit longer.

Pre-series predictions, which nearly unanimously favored the Blackhawks, highlighted their experience as the ultimate intangible. Nashville showed they will be a tough team to beat in the next few seasons, and Minnesota, Anaheim and Edmonton could be thorns in the Hawks' side as well when the playoffs start next spring. Richard Panik, a restricted free agent who set career highs with 22 goals and 22 assists this season, also is a name to watch this summer.

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Joe Johnson, whose floater at the buzzer gave them a two-point win in Game 1 , added 13 points off the bench. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg on Thomas pregame: "He's as versatile a scorer as there is in our game right now.".

If the Wild extend this series to seven games, the counterargument will be how confident and finely tuned the victors are compared to rusty Nashville.

Timeliness also had a significant impact. Younger players like Ryan Hartman, Tanner Kero, Nick Schmaltz and Artemi Panarin didn't find the back of the net against the Predators, but now with that experience, they will hopefully be able to come through when the playoffs roll around next spring. The Nashville Predators completed a sweep of Chicago with a convincing 4-1 win on Thursday night.

"SWEEP! SWEEP! SWEEP!" an elated Bridgestone Arena crowd chanted in the closing minutes, unable to wait until the final horn to unleash its ecstasy. "Whoever goes the distance, the two teams that make it the distance, there's a month and a half left. We'll see", said Campbell, who turns 38 next month. "And if that's the case, then we're going to get rid of those people. There's a lot of work left to do". I think they're a team that they capitalize well on mistakes and they can also create if you're not sharp in your game.

"They're real hot, they're rested, watching us battle it out", said Blues forward Scottie Upshall, who was drafted by the Predators with the sixth pick overall in 2002 and played parts of four seasons there.

Reach Adam Vingan at avingan@tennessean.com and on Twitter @AdamVingan.

Following a series that was never really close after a 5-0 blowout in Game 2, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said it is "insulting" to the Predators to say Chicago choked.