The Predators start the Western Conference Quarterfinals in Anaheim as they take on the Ducks in game 1 of the best of seven series.
Looking at the Ducks: Anaheim is top-heavy full of offense weapons. What do the Preds have to be scared of? Try: Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, and…well that’s about it. In my opinion there are 5 good players for Anaheim’s offense and 2 for their defense…past that? It’s a crapshoot. Anaheim’s lower 2 lines in both offense and defense can’t matchup to the Preds lower 2 and their goaltending is suspect compared to Pekka Rinne, but the Ducks can easily overpower a team and score more goals then they let up. Their powerplay is dangerously strong, let’s not forget that either.
Looking at the Predators: Nashville may not have the offensive firepower that Anaheim has, but they make up for that in their all around play. The Preds have 2 strong top lines in Ward/Legwand/Erat and Kostitsyn/Fisher/Hornqvist and round out with two equally strong lines. Their defense? Pretty impressive. Nashville boasts Ryan Suter and Shea Weber on the top pairing accompanied by Franson, O’Brien, Klein, and Blum. Another odd question is where does Steve Sullivan go? Does Trotz scratch Halischuk and Geoffrion and put Sully with Dumont and Wilson, giving Nashville THREE top lines? It’s really hard to say. However it all comes down to one player: Pekka Rinne. If Pekka Rinne plays like Pekka Rinne, Nashville moves on. If Pekka Rinne has an off game or two, Nashville goes home. It’s that simple
For the Ducks to win: Find a way to get around Nashville’s defense, David Legwand, and screen Pekka Rinne. Anaheim’s top line has yet, in 4 games this year, been able to really find a way around David Legwand, Ryan Suter, and Shea Weber, as Perry/Ryan/Getzlaf have all been limited in points during the regular season series. If they can find a way to find SOME hole in the armor of these guys and get some big bodies in front of Pekka Rinne, they may be able to pull this one out
For the Predators to win: SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF THE DUCKS. Twice this year Nashville has kept Anaheim to 1 goal. In all 4 games this year, Nashville has been in a position to win (they gave up a goal with 1 second left in the second meeting). Nashville knows how to play the Ducks and has done well at frustrating the top line of the Ducks. However, they’ve given too much time to the Ducks second line and they’ve capitalized. If Nashville can keep shutting down the Terrific Trio and somehow find a way to limit Selanne and Koivu, the Preds will coast
Prediction: 3-1 Predators. Game 1 is usually a chess battle and I think Nashville is going to come out strong and fast to take a 1-0 lead in the best of 7 series
BEST OF SEVEN Record: 0-0
OTHER GAMES OF INTEREST:
WCQF Game 1 – #1 Vancouver vs #8 Chicago: Series Tied at 0-0, 10:00pm EST
WCQF Game 1 – #3 Detroit vs #6 Phoenix: Series Tied at 0-0, 7:00pm EST
ECQF Game 1 – #1 Washington vs #8 New York: Series Tied at 0-0, 7:30pm EST
ECQF Game 1 – #4 Pittsburgh vs #5 Tampa Bay: Series Tied at 0-0, 7:00pm EST
Thanks for reading!