Skip to main content
Stanley Cup Final

Coach's analysis: Penguins, Predators sought rhythm in Cup Final opener

Former Blues coach Davis Payne believes series will 'look a whole lot different going forward'

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Davis Payne to break down the action. Payne will be checking in throughout the series.

Payne, 46, was coach of the St. Louis Blues from 2010-2011. The Blues were 67-55-15 under Payne.

He joined the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant on the staff of Darryl Sutter in the summer of 2012 and was with the Kings until this past April. He was on their coaching staff during their Stanley Cup championship run in 2014.

 

[RELATED: Complete Penguins vs. Predators series coverage | Game 1 recap]

 

PITTSBURGH -- Former St. Louis Blues coach Davis Payne said Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators on Monday looked like teams searching for the right footing against an unfamiliar opponent.

The Penguins defeated the Predators 5-3 at PPG Paints Arena to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. Game 2 is at Pittsburgh on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

"It's important to understand this is the start line," Payne said. "This series is going to look a whole lot different going forward, because to me it looked like Nashville wasn't quite prepared to deal with a hiccup or two.

"They got themselves righted. I don't think Pittsburgh dealt with being in the position they were in very well."

Video: Reaction to Stanley Cup Final Game 1

To that end, the Penguins did not have a shot in the second period, the first time a team had zero shots in a period during a Stanley Cup Final since the NHL began tracking that statistic in 1957-58. The Predators outshot the Penguins 26-12.

Payne also thought there wasn't a lot of emotion in Game 1, which will surely change along the way.

"What do they say, familiarity breeds contempt?" Payne said. "I don't think that's there yet. There's such a newness to the start of a series.

"We talked about this, that the Stanley Cup Final is different. You're dealing with everything that's going on and the buildup, and all of a sudden you get into the game. The team that finds its rhythm first usually has an advantage. I don't know who found their rhythm first or who found it longest; this game really doesn't really tell that story. I don't think that either team would say they played well physically, played well mentally or played well emotionally."

Payne thought the Predators became unnerved when they were called for interference (Calle Jarnkrok) and cross checking (James Neal) on the same play at 13:50 of the first period. The Penguins converted the ensuing 5-on-3 when Evgeni Malkin scored at 15:32.

"I think they were kind of shocked and pushed back by those two calls," Payne said. "It took them getting into the locker room and they were able to get themselves righted."

How did the Predators get back into it?

"They were skating," Payne said. "All five guys were skating. I thought that was the one thing Nashville did really really well in the last two-thirds of the hockey game was they beat Pittsburgh to the right side of the play.

"When you talk about the low shot totals, it's not just about Pittsburgh not shooting the puck; it's about Nashville continuously beating them to the right side of the play. They did that for the better part of the last two periods. We'd all say the game-winning goal was one that you need a stop on, and you're in control of the game even though it's tied.

"I think there's going to be a lot of Pittsburgh Penguins saying we're going to have to be better."

View More