POSTED ON Monday, 05.07.2012 / 10:38 PM
THREE MUSINGS:
Scoreboard Doesn't Match Play -- Nashville controlled the play for the strong majority of the second period, but the scoreboard doesn't indicated the level to which the Preds have out-played the Coyotes. Nashville owns a 22-12 edge in shots on goal and a 46-28 bulge in shot attempts. The shots on goal and shots attempted are much more indicative of zone time and level of play through the first two periods of play.

Counter attacks -- Nashville was victimized on two counter-attacks by the Coyotes in the second period for both of Phoenix's goals in the period. On the first, the Preds had a strong offensive shift when Weber's shot through a screen was blockered to the corner; Weber and Suter lost contain on the high forward and the Coyotes hit Shane Doan for a breakaway. Rinne made the initial save, but Phoenix beat Nashville to the rebound and scored on the regroup with traffic in front of Rinne. On the second, the Preds again had a strong offensive shift, but Legwand was dumped in the corner creating numbers through transition for the Coyotes. Phoenix hit the trail forward for the 2-0 lead.

No luck from the posts -- The Preds rang a pair of great scoring chances off the post in the second period. Josi came out of the penalty box and joined Radulov on a two-on-one 6:20 into the period; Josi's shot eluded Smith but dinged the post and then the puck hopped over Radulov's stick on the backdoor preventing an easy tap in. Legwand's drive was deflected with a diving desperation save by Smith and then the rebound back out the other side to Josi was blocked by the back-checking defenseman in the goal crease. On Nashville's next power-play -- with 9:01 left in the frame -- Weber teed up a shot from the center point which beat Smith to the glove side, but caught the post flush; the rebound attempt by Andrei Kostitsyn was pushed into Smith's pads low.

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POSTED ON Monday, 05.07.2012 / 9:55 PM
The Preds lines at the start of the game (in order of first shift)
    Fisher centering Erat and Wilson
    Legwand centering Bourque and Hornqvist
    Spaling centering A. Kostitsyn and Radulov
    Gaustad centering S. Kostitsyn and Yip


Defense pairings:
    Suter and Weber
    Josi and Gill
    Bouillon and Klein


THREE MUSINGS:
Strong 1-on-1 -- The Predators were very good in one-on-one battles during the first period, especially along the boards, winning the majority of one-on-ones during the first period. Radulov was strong, winning back pucks on a couple of occasions in the offensive zone to extend zone time.

Rolling Four -- The Preds got solid shifts from all four lines during the period, allowing the coaches to spred the even strength ice time farily equally during the opening frame. Fisher was high among team forwards with 5:32 ice time in the period; Sergei Kostitsyn was low with 2:25. The other 10 forwards were all over 3:00 of ice time with four others drawing more than 5:00 in the frame.

Good Start -- That was a very good road period for the Preds. Nashville played a disciplined --- what Coach Trotz likes to call "detailed" --- first period. In doing so, the Preds limited Phoenix's scoring chances to only two or three high quality opportunities. As a result, the crowd, which was buzzing at puck drop had quieted noticeably by around four minutes into the game.


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POSTED ON Monday, 05.07.2012 / 8:49 PM
Preds have 21 skaters out on the ice for pregame warmups tonight (in numerical order)
  Forwards (13): Erat, Legwand, Fisher, Spaling, Smith, Yip, Hornqvist, Gaustad, Wilson, Andrei Kostitysn, Radulov, Bourque, Sergei Kostitsyn
  Defensemen (8): Weber, Klein, Suter, Hillen, Ellis, Bouillon, Josi, Gill


THREE PREGAME MUSINGS:
 -- There's a lot more energy in the arena tonight than there was in either Game 1 or Game 2; very important for the Preds to get through the first television timeout and settle the crowd down.

 -- Look for the Preds to use a variety of line combinations and defensive pairings during tonight's game. Coach Trotz stated this morning that lines at the start of the game may well be different than lines at the end of game --- depending on play within the game. 

 -- Alexander Radulov looks like he has an extra spring in his stride during pre-game warmups. He had some jump during Sunday's practice and mentioned again during this morning's media session a desire to --- perhaps not in the same words --- prove that he can be a difference maker at this level of the playoffs. It would not be surprising to see a very spirited effort by Radulov in tonight's game.

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POSTED ON Monday, 05.07.2012 / 2:30 PM
The Preds took an optional morning skate at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale today; the majority of the players went out on the ice today.

Some quick takeaways from today's post-practice media session:
   -- The players stressed the importance of maintaining the defensive focus the team displayed in Games 3 & 4. The Preds players and coaches felt the team generated enough offensive opportunities to win, especially in Game 4, but just didn't bury the opportunities they created. The players expressed a confidence that if they continue to play the same way, but capitalize on some of those chances, they can come away with the win tonight and extend the series further.

  -- Expect a physical start to the game; the players noted the games became more physical in Games 3 & 4 and expect that trend to continue tonight.

  -- The lines from practice on Sunday are likely the lines the Preds will open with tonight (Fisher centering Erat & Wilson, Legwand centering Bourque & Hornqvist, Spaling centering A. Kostitsyn & Radulov, Gaustad centering S. Kostitsyn & Yip). However, Coach Trotz made a point to state that the line combinations will be fluid and will be based on how guys are going. Trotz noted that Wilson skated strong the last two games and earned added opportunities. He also mentioned that Sergei Kostitsyn had been struggling a little with his production, but still brings solid offensive and defensive skills and may well be slid around to different lines if the coaches need a spark in a different area.

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POSTED ON Friday, 05.04.2012 / 8:13 PM
THREE MUSINGS:
Hornqvist -- Patric Hornqvist was front-and-center in several of the Preds top scoring chances in the period, actually starting with the final shift of the first period when time expired with Hornqvist and Bourque trying to whack away at a loose puck in the crease. Hornqvist rang a shot off the post 5:31 on a rush in transition 5:31 into the period, snapped a shot over the crossbar on Smith's giveaway a few seconds later, and just missed on a redirect of a backdoor feed with 7:24 remaining in the period. He was dangerous as a passer as well, helping relay along a handful of entry plays from the far wall along the blueline heading into the offensive zone. Hornqvist should have drawn a penalty on Martin Hanzal with 1:18 left in the period; Hornqvist made a good strong move without the puck cutting through the neutral zone and Hanzal stuck his stick into Hornqvist's waist to hook him back into contact and prevent Hornqvist from creating separation in transition, but the infraction went undetected.

Missed Opportunities --
The Preds skated much better in the second period, holding the Puck in the Phoenix zone for the first 1:50 of the frame consecutively, but were unable to net the equalizer. Hornqvist hit the post on a transition rush around five-and-a-half minutes into the period and a few seconds after that Phoenix netminder Mike Smith handed the puck over at the top of the crease, but the Preds misfired on the open upper half of the net. Infact, the Preds missed high on around a half dozen great looks off other passing sequences in the period. Spaling and Wilson were victimized on a potential two-on-one opportunity midway through the frame, when the puck hopped over Wilson's stick drawing the play offside.

Much Better 2nd Period -- As a team, Nashville did a much better job of the "details" in the second period, winning the majority of one-on-one puck battles. Although shots on goal were even in the period, 10-10, the Preds held a 24-21 edge in attempted shots and created almost all of the quality scoring chances in the frame.

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POSTED ON Friday, 05.04.2012 / 7:18 PM
The Preds lines at the start of the game (in order of first shift)
    Legwand centering Bourque and Hornqvist
    Fisher centering Erat and S. Kostitsyn
    Gaustad centering Halischuk and Tootoo
    Spaling centering Wilson and Yip

Defense pairings:
    Josi and Gill
    Suter and Weber
    Bouillon and Klein


THREE MUSINGS:
Wide Open Start -- The first six-and-half minutes of play was wide open run-and-gun hockey with both teams trading scoring chances. Not the style of game the Preds really want to play, but it did make for an entertaining start. And both teams were flying around the ice. Rinne got into the game early as he was forced to make three or four quality stops, including a one-on-goalie down low by Boedker just under five minutes into the game.

First Fight -- We saw the first fight of the series at the 10:00 mark of the first period with Gaustad and Chipchura dropping the gloves after a neutral zone faceoff. Gaustad got the quick knockdown and then the bout continued with an extended "round 2" ending fairly evenly -- though Gaustad did land a big uppercut late.

Detail Plays -- The Preds "level of detail" in the first period was not as strong tonight as the team showed during Game 3 on Wednesday night. Nashville had a couple of failed clears coming out of the defensive zone, struggled to get the puck deep on neutral zone dump-ins and wasn't as crisp on angles for the forecheck. As a result, the Coyotes won the races to the majority of the loose pucks in the first period. Further, Nashville seemingly lost every one-on-one battle along the boards, infact the Phoenix goal came when Gill lost a one-on-one battle in the corner after a Coyotes hard rim around the boards; the Coyotes came out of the corner clean with a three-on-two attack advantage and Doan used the time to set up traffic in front of the net for a 1-0 Phoenix lead.


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POSTED ON Friday, 05.04.2012 / 6:13 PM
Preds have the same 20 skaters out for pregame warmups tonight as took pregame warmups in Game 4 (in numerical order)
  Forwards (13): Erat, Legwand, Fisher, Spaling, Smith, Yip, Tootoo, Halischuk, Hornqvist, Gaustad, Wilson, Bourque, Sergei Kostitsyn
  Defensemen (7): Weber, Klein, Suter, Ellis, Bouillon, Josi, Gill

Some of the suspense of pregame warmups was reduced by Coach Trotz's announcement during his morning skate press conference that he was planning on using the same lineup tonight as Game 3.

Big, rowdy crowd outside the arena this afternoon for the pre-game Plaza Party ... expect the crowd to be amped up at the start of the game tonight.

Based on comments passed by the Preds players during morning skate media availability, expect the team to look to play a physical game tonight and take the body when the option is presented.


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POSTED ON Friday, 05.04.2012 / 10:32 AM

Andrei Kostitsyn, Brian McGrattan, Alexander Radulov and Craig Smith all took extended practice during morning skate today, usually a sign that a skater is not projected to be in the lineup for the game.

After Radulov came off the ice, he said that he will not be in the lineup tonight. Radulov indicated that, while he wants to be on the ice helping the team during games, he had no issues with the decision by Coach Trotz and staff and run with the same players who got the win in Game 3. Radulov stated he just wanted to continue to prepare hard, stay focused in practices, and remain ready for whenever his next opportunity comes.

Coach Trotz confirmed in his press conference that he will dress the same lineup tonight as he used in Game 3. At the same time, Trotz praised Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn specifically for the way they've handled the decision and the focus they've brought to practice.

Trotz said that none of the forwards in the lineup Game 3 for the Preds gave him a reason to pull anyone back out of the lineup, but that Radulov and Kostitsyn would both be ready to play if any of the forwards struggled tonight.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 05.03.2012 / 5:42 PM
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 9:46 PM
THREE MUSINGS:
Defensive Communictation -- Nashville's communication in the defensive zone has been markedly better tonight than earlier in the series. It has helped the Preds pick up the trailing man and the backdoor cuts better tonight than they did in Games 1 and 2. As a result, the Preds have been in better position tonight to win the races for loose pucks in the defensive zone and are limiting sustained zone time for the Phoenix offense.

PKs Winning Out -- The penalty kill units for both teams have had the better of the play during the power-plays tonight. Both teams have had several good shorthanded opportunities. And --- outside of a deflection by Hornqvist seconds into Nashville's first PP --- neither power-play has generated many dangerous scoring opportunities. Although Nashville did show more momentum during their fourth power-play (second of the second period), with strong puck movement, but were unable to generate sustained dangerous opportunities.

Reversal Of Fortune -- The Coyotes made a living in the First Round and first two games of Round 2 by blocking shots in the defensive zone and frustrating opposing offenses. Through the first two periods tonight it's been the Preds who have "out blocked" the Coyotes by a 10-7 margin, adding several other deflections on pass attempts to disrupt puck movement by the Coyotes.

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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