So, I believe it’s time to go over the one series that I haven’t touched on yet because it’s the series I am primarily covering: The Anaheim Ducks VS The Nashville Predators
Who’s better? OFFENSE – ANAHEIM
Nashville just can’t stack up to what I’ll call the Fab Five: Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne, and Saku Koivu. Of course the Preds DO have some offensive weapons, but Nashville is firing bb’s compared to Anaheim’s howitzer’s. Comparing Legwand to Perry or Erat to Ryan is just a huge mismatch
Who’s better? DEFENSE – NASHVILLE
The Predators have all world talent back-stopping their blue line in Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. A extremely dangerous shutdown combination that also chips in a vast majority of points for the Preds (whether it’s feeding the puck or hitting the back of the net), plus you can NEVER forget that Shea Weber has a 105 mph slapshot. Getting in the way of it may end up causing an injury, and to either team at that. When you look at Anaheim, they do have possible Norris Trophy-finalist Lubomir Visnovsky backstopping their blueline and young Toni Lydman as well, but it’s just no competition for Weber/Suter
Who’s better? GOALTENDING – NASHVILLE
Two words: Pekka Rinne. Of all the talk about who would be better in a full season and what the 3-headed monster of Anaheim can do, Pekka Rinne trumps both conversations. Rinne doesn’t give up very many bad goals, so you have to either screen him COMPLETELY or get one to ricochet off of something or a piece of his padding. Getting a clean goal off a simple shot isn’t going to beat Rinne in the least, as he will snag the puck out of the air and stare down the opposing player who shot it with a “Seriously? That’s all?” type of look (not kidding, go back and watch some of his highlights over his career). I do not take anything away from Dan Ellis or Ray Emery, but when you match them up against Pekka Rinne, it’s a no contest
Who’s better? SPECIAL TEAMS – PUSH
Nashville has the 26th ranked PP to it’s 5th ranked PK. Anaheim has the 3rd ranked PP to it’s 19th ranked PK. I think this will definitely qualify as a push here. Of course, the Predators will definitely need to stay out of the box so we don’t have to demonstrate this theory, as we’ll see enough of Ryan/Getzlaf/Perry on 5-on-5. Giving the Ducks too many chances on the powerplay is a recipe for disaster. However, let’s look at last years playoffs. Nashville went 1-27 on the powerplay (3.7%). If the Preds can convert on a few more chances then ONE this year, it could definitely help them in their endeavors.
The X-Factor: Anaheim Ducks – LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY
Anaheim is going to need a few seeing-eye shots to get past Pekka Rinne to succeed in this series and the person to help deliver those is going to be none other then there top defenseman. Visnovsky is, for all intents and purposes, an offensive defenseman. If he can take advantage of a few well timed screens and put the right shots towards the net, he can be the difference maker that Anaheim will need to take them into the second round
The X-Factor: Nashville Predators – MIKE FISHER
Nashville’s trade acquisition has come along late in the season to start being able to produce for the offensively-lacking Predators. Most would say Legwand or Rinne would be the X-Factor here for Nashville, but the play for Fisher will be extremely telling. Fisher is on a line with Hornqvist and Kostitsyn, Nashville’s only 20-goal scorers this season. Fisher isn’t a slouch either, finishing the season with 19 goals. Out of all of the lines here, Fisher’s line will be leaned upon for the majority of Nashville’s offense, however winning the faceoff is going to be needed as well. If Fisher can keep his faceoff win percentage high and play with the same intensity that Preds fans have seen him play in the last couple of weeks, he will be able to show Nashville what it feels like to get out of the first round
Game By Game Prediction:
Game 1: Anaheim 1, Nashville 3
Game 2: Anaheim 4, Nashville 2
Game 3: Nashville 3, Anaheim 0
Game 4: Nashville 4, Anaheim 2
Game 5: Anaheim 3, Nashville 4 (OT)
Final – Nashville wins the series over Anaheim, 4 games to 1
Nashville is going to split the home series in Anaheim before taking full advantage of home ice in games 3 and 4, getting a timely shut-out from Pekka Rinne after rebounding from a loss in game 2 and getting an empty netter to seal game 4.
Now, the drama comes in game 5. Nashville has NEVER won a game 5…until this season. The game will go to overtime, however Nashville will kill 3 birds with 1 stone (OT win, game 5 win, series win) as Shea Weber will blast a shot from the point to the back of the net and send the Predators dancing into the second round and back home to celebrating crowd.