The Nashville Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Monday night, and Ryan Kesler was one of the worst players on the ice.
He was a minus-4, after being a minus-1 in Game 5. He managed just one assist for the series, despite not having to face Predators center Ryan Johansen for the last two games.
Why was he so ineffective? Speculation on NBCSN after the game was that he was exhausted, due to the Ducks’ compressed schedule in the playoffs and having to chase around Connor McDavid in the previous round.
His coach, Randy Carlyle, indicated that the schedule wasn’t in Anaheim’s favor, and that the NHL should reconsider it.
“I don’t think we played poorly in the series. I think that the toughest part I have about the whole thing is that this was our seventh game in 13 days,” said Carlyle.
“Now, there’s various reasons for that, but I think there’s got to be some consideration in the scheduling in the future between series. We finished on a Wednesday and had to open again on Friday, whereas other teams had to open on Saturday. An extra day would have given us a chance to recover. And we know how tough these games are. And that was a tough hand that was dealt to us.”
Please recall that the Ducks played a seven-game series against the Edmonton Oilers while the Predators had a six-game series against the St. Louis Blues. The Predators ended their series on May 7, because they closed out their opponent when given the chance. The Ducks ended their series on May 10, because when given the chance to close out their opponent, they lost 7-1 on May 7.
So Nashville got extra rest because, like, they earned it. And the Ducks didn’t get extra rest because, like, they didn’t earn it.
Also please recall that on May 17, Carlyle completely punted on the schedule question, when asked “is it fair to play the playoffs with this kind of schedule” by a reporter.
“Well, I better not comment what’s fair and what’s not fair. I leave that up for other people. I think the issue is we get accustomed to it and we just have to make sure we manage the time, what we do in the days between and how we can re-energize our group. That’s the most important thing,” he said.
So just adapt to it and leave the criticism to other people because it’s better if a coach doesn’t comment on it.
The Predators will be well-rested when they open the Stanley Cup Final on Monday.
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