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The Wraparound: Predators should unleash Duchene in Game 5

With Gabriel Landeskog's physicality and Nathan MacKinnon's skating ability, the Avalanche made quick work of St. Louis -- and Kathryn Tappen, Anson Carter and Dominic Moore wonder whether any team can beat them.

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

• Monday was a night of overtime in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Josh Bailey gave the Islanders a 3-2 series lead over Pittsburgh with his double OT goal. Then, Kyle Connor sent the Oilers home with his triple OT winner.

• In other games, both the Wild and Panthers extended their respective series to a Game 6.

Want to catch up on Monday night’s action in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs? Read the NHL Playoff Buzzer.

During the Predators’ playoff push, they could talk themselves into a ton of explanations for their success, but the most honest answers revolved around Juuse Saros’ brilliance. With their series tied against the Hurricanes going into Game 5 (8 p.m. ET; CNBC), the explanation is largely the same.

It’s still Saros making a ton of saves, and keeping the sometimes-overmatched Predators in playoff games vs. the Hurricanes.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 First Round schedule, TV info]

Eventually, someone has to score, and to an extent, the Predators have done so by committee. Maybe most puzzlingly, that’s meant keeping Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen off of their already-not-so-prolific power play.

In continuing to contribute, Predators coach John Hynes essentially praised that stick-to-itiveness.

“Part of being a team and winning is, you have to accept the role you’re in,” Hynes said. “And I have to give the two guys credit. They came in, they played hard, they played with a little chip on their shoulder tonight ...”

Technically, the Predators won with that counterintuitive strategy. And it won over at least one media member, Joe Rexrode, who supplied the above quote and whose story featured the headline “Predators ask less of Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen, get more.”


Personally, it feels like the Predators got lucky for things to work out that way, and that they should ask more again. Or maybe give more: Duchene, in particular, earned more opportunities.

It’s not just that Matt Duchene scored a pretty double-OT game-winner. His all-around game passes the eye tests, and aces the analytics.

Between Games 3 and 4, Duchene was on the ice for 12 high-danger chances for, versus just three against at even-strength, according to Natural Stat Trick. Personally, those numbers scream “this guy is working hard, and deserves to be rewarded.”

And it doesn’t need to be about coddling. If the Predators gave Duchene more time on the power play, they’re more likely to score goals. That could be crucial whether Saros continues to conjure magic, or if he starts to look at least a little bit human.

Besides, can you really blame your $8 million center for “underachieving” if you don’t give that center the best possible chances to prove Duchene is worth it?


Game 4: Maple Leafs at Canadiens (TOR leads 2-1), 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN) (livestream)
Game 5
: Predators at Hurricanes (Series tied 2-2), 8 p.m. ET (CNBC) (livestream)


Game 6: Penguins at Islanders (NYI leads 3-2), 6:30 p.m. ET - NBCSN (livestream)
Game 6: Panthers at Lightning (TB leads 3-2), 8 p.m. ET - CNBC (livestream)
Game 6: Golden Knights at Wild (VGK leads 3-2), 9 p.m. ET - NBCSN (livestream)

PHT’s 2021 Stanley Cup previews
Penguins vs. Islanders

Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens
Lightning vs. Panthers
Hurricanes vs. Predators
Golden Knights vs. Wild

Stanley Cup playoff predictions
Why your team can (and can not) win the Stanley Cup this season
NHL odds: Division winners, 2021 Stanley Cup champion
Which NHL playoff series has biggest upset potential?


James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.