NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nashville right wing Patric Hornqvist could not have been any more scathing his self-analysis.
Hornqvist has scored 51 goals over the last two regular seasons but had none in this series and none over his final eight playoff games. By the last couple of games in this series, Hornqvist was reduced to playing a fourth-line role and was dropped from the first power-play unit.
"I was not playing good enough," said Hornqvist, who played 9:49 on Monday, second-lowest on the team to rookie fourth-liner Blake Geoffrion. "There was no question about that. I was trying, but I couldn't get anything going. They play a good defensive game and then I couldn't really – I tried to go in front (of the net) and I was there, but I couldn't get the rebounds and the second chances. It's a small difference in this League and I have to be better, but they did a good job.
"And, of course, I wish I helped the team more than what I did."
While Hornqvist came up short, he was not alone in that sense. Left wing Sergei Kostitsyn, who led Nashville with 23 goals during the regular season, also failed to score in the series. Ditto for Mike Fisher, who had six points in the first round but only one in the second.
Defenseman Shea Weber, who had 16 goals during the regular season and three in the first round, also did not score. Famous for one of the League's hardest slap shots, he had six shots on Monday, five in the first period. Martin Erat, who finished for the team lead in points with 50, did not find the back of the net. Erat had a breakaway in the second period of Game 6 with seemingly plenty of time but he allowed Vancouver forward Jeff Tambellini to catch up to him and he did not even get a shot off.
"Yeah, we had some chances, we just didn't bury them," Fisher said. "That's the way it goes sometimes. It would've been nice to get a few but it wasn't working."
Nashville coach Barry Trotz was philosophical about his big guns' lack of production. Not surprisingly, he did not want to single them out and pointed to how Nashville shut down the Sedin brothers, two of the League's highest scorers in the regular season. Daniel Sedin scored his first goal of the series on Monday. Henrik Sedin's only goal in the series was an empty-netter and Alex Burrows – the third member of Vancouver's top line – had the only goal in the series.
Meanwhile, Ryan Kesler devoured the Predators, with Trotz calling it one of the best performances one will ever see in a playoff series.
"That's sort of a tradeoff sometimes," said Trotz, who pointed out that Vancouver was the League's top defensive team in the regular season and showed why in the series. "They didn't get any productions out of the Sedins. They were concentrating on shutting down our guys, we were concentrating on shutting down their guys. We just had trouble shutting down one extra guy. But for the most part, we felt we could play with them, we could compete with them."
In the void left by many of those top scorers, one who filled in was Joel Ward, who had 10 goals in the regular season but seven in the playoffs. Nashville often talks about scoring as a collective effort. David Legwand, who had four goals in the series, scored Nashville’s only goal on Monday, but that collective effort finally fell short.
"We've had different guys at different times," Ward said. "Jordin Tootoo making big plays, (Jerred Smithson) scoring big goals. You know, it's not like we're a team that has 1-2-3-4 down the line. We do it collectively and some guys just step up at different times and that's what playoffs is all about: Having different guys contribute and make an impact and that's what some of us tried to do."
So, in the end, it left some like Hornqvist with a summer to contemplate what more they might have done.
"It's hard to say, but of course I want to produce more than what I did this series, but they're tough," he said. "They're good defensively and they don't give much room out there."
Author: John Manasso | NHL.com Correspondent