POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.27.2011 / 12:46 AM
By Jay Levin - Nashville Predators / Playoff Blog -- Conference Semifinals vs. Vancouver Canucks
With Vancouver's Game Seven OT win the Preds now know they'll be facing off against the Canucks in Round 2. The league hasn't announced the schedule for the next round --- speculation has it the schedule will be announced sometime on Wednesday afternoon? But that's not concrete.
The Final Four in the West is concrete:
#1 Vancouver vs. #5 Nashville AND #2 San Jose vs. #3 Detroit
It shows just how powerful the West is; despite all the parity and all the great teams in the Conference, the three division winners all made it through to Round 2 -- the only seeded upset of the first round was Nashville knocking off Anaheim (shameless plug for the NashvillePredators.com Series Blog), but both team finished with the same point total in the regular season (and Nashville won the regular season series), so......
POSTED ON Monday, 04.25.2011 / 9:29 PM
Fans around the Nashville are asking who they should root for in the LA/San Jose and the Chicago/Vancouver series. Well, that's a tough question to answer but here's "The Tale of the Tape" on Nashville's their three potential Round 2 opponents:
- Detroit (will face if one of LA or Chicago win their series, but not both) ... click here for season-series stats ... the Preds won 4 of the 6 games against the Wings and held a 9 to 4 points lead in the regular season series (1 of the 2 losses was in overtime); Nashville out-scored Detroit 18 goals to 13 in the six game regular season series ... the travel would be the least strenuous and the atmosphere in Bridgestone Arena would be mind-blowing ... Detroit won its first round series in 4 games and has been off since closing out the series on Thursday night (April 21).
- Los Angeles (will face if both LA and Chicago win their series) ... click here for season-series stats ... the Preds won 1 of the 4 games against the Kings and the Kings held a 6 to 2 points lead in the regular season series (no overtime games in the series); Los Angeles out-scored Nashville 16 goals to 9 in the four game regular season series ... Nashville would hold home ice advantage in a series against the Kings and the Preds have won 4 of their last 6 home match-ups against the Kings dating back to the '08-09 season ... LA is also without star forward Anze Kopitar, who led the Kings 6 points (2g-4a) in the regular season series ... the Kings play Game 6 vs. San Jose tonight and would have to play Game 7 at San Jose on Wednesday.
- Vancouver (will face if both Vancouver and San Jose win their series) ... click here for season-series stats ... the Preds won 2 of the 4 games with all four games decided in regulation; Nashville out-scored Vancouver 8 goals to 6 ... Roberto Luongo is 5-5-0 in his last 10 games against the Preds dating back to the start of the '08-09 season ... the Canucks posted 117 points during the regular season, most in the NHL this year ... Vancouver won the first three games of its Conference Quarterfinals series against Chicago before dropping the last three contests ... the Canucks play Game 7 vs. Chicago tomorrow night (Tuesday).
POSTED ON Monday, 04.25.2011 / 11:12 AM
Now that the Preds have wrapped up the Conference Quarterfinals series win over the Anaheim Ducks, it's time to start peeking ahead to potential Round 2 opponents. Quick take, since the NHL will re-seed match-ups between Rounds 1 and 2, the results of the Vancouver/Chicago series and the San Jose/Los Angeles series will both determine who Nashville will face next round; there are three possibilities for the Preds --- and it might not be decided until late Wednesday night.
- if both Vancouver and San Jose win their respective series: Nashville will travel to Vancouver to open Round 2
- if one of Vancouver or San Jose (it doesn't matter which) wins and the other loses: Nashville will travel to Detroit to open Round 2
- if both Vancouver and San Jose lose their respective series: Nashville will host Los Angeles to open Round 2
Now the more detailed break-down.
Los Angeles hosts San Jose in Game 6 tonight (Monday night). The Sharks lead the series three games to two, so a San Jose win and the series is over. A Los Angeles win and the series moves to a deciding Game 7 in San Jose on Wednesday night. The Kings appeared down and out after they surrendered a 4-0 lead in Game 3 of an eventual 6-5 San Jose OT win; the Sharks followed it up with a 6-3 win in Game 4 and most pundits predicted San Jose would wrap the series up at home in Game 5, however the Kings rallied behind netminder Jonathan Quick's 51-save effort for a 3-1 win to keep the series alive.
Vancouver hosts Chicago in Game 7 on Tuesday night. Just a few days ago the Canucks held a 3-0 series lead and seemed to be cruising to a series sweep, but the Chicago offense came to life in Game 4, a 7-2 Hawks win, and followed with a 5-0 Chicago win in Game 5. Last night the Blackhawks rallied from a 3-2 defecit to convert a thrid period penalty shot to force overtime and then won the game 15:30 into the extra frame to force the seventh game.
Round 2 Seeding scenarios:
- If Vancouver and San Jose win: #1 Vancouver vs. #5 Nashville AND #2 San Jose vs. #3 Detroit
- If Vancouver and Los Angeles win: #1 Vancouver vs. #7 Los Angeles AND #3 Detroit vs. #5 Nashville
- If San Jose and Chicago win: #2 San Jose vs. #8 Chicago AND #3 Detroit vs. #5 Nashville
- If Los Angeles and Chicago win: #3 Detroit vs. #8 Chicago AND #5 Nashville vs. #6 Los Angeles
POSTED ON Sunday, 04.24.2011 / 6:35 PM
Thoughts and views from the second period at Bridgestone Arena...
- The veteran chemistry pays off for the Preds early in Period 2; Dumont and Sullivan combine to give the Preds a 2-1 lead. Good pass by Dumont; excellent speed and stickhandling by Sullivan to beat Francois Beauchemin wide down the right wing and deke around Emery to slide the puck into the vacated net.
- The Dumont-Geoffrion-Sullivan line has created solid scoring chances on three of its first five shifts of the game (two of the four shifts that line took in the first period and then the goal on the first shift they saw in the second period). They had another dangerous shift with under eight minutes remaining in the period. Sullivan's speed is really helping that line. But then took an unforced penalty in the offensive zone late in the frame leading to Anaheim's game-tying goal.
- Nashville's power-play had three great scoring chances to extend the lead early in the second period; the unit of Fisher-Hornqvist-Kostitsyn-Suter-Weber were buzzing through the early moments of the man-advantage and the puck was loose in the crease with a scrum trying to get a handle on it before the Ducks were able to slide it to the corner.
- The Ducks power-play tied the game, 2-2. Anaheim created several high quality chances and never gave the Preds a chance to clear the zone and reset. Anaheim has used the power-play to score eight of its 20 goals in this series.
- Nashville's depth is really showing up late in this series. Each of Nashville's four lines have contributed on the scoreboard since the start of the third period of Game 5. The Dumont-Geofftion-Sullivan line converted in the second period to give the Preds the lead; the Smithson-Spaling-Tootoo line netted the Preds first goal tonight (and the OT winner in Game 5); the Fisher-Hornqvist-Kostitsyn line produced the OT forcing goal in Game 5; the Halischuk-Legwand-Ward produced the goal to tie the game 2-2 in the third period of Game 5.
POSTED ON Sunday, 04.24.2011 / 5:18 PM
Thoughts and views from the first period at Bridgestone Arena...
- The atmosphere is ELECTRIC. I can't remember the last time I've heard an arena this loud for pre-game warm-ups before. Click here for a view from warmups
- Both teams are competing for every inch of ice out there. Forwards, defensemen, goaltenders on both teams are competing hard.
- Quick, up-tempo pace to the start of the game.
- Anaheim with the first quality scoring chance of the game; a two-on-one by Perry and Fowler less than 30 seconds into the game. The Ducks have been able to create a quality odd-man rush off the first or second shift every game of the series.
- Selanne continues to impress, scoring the game's opening goal; an innocent looking play coming around behind the net and flipping a shot inside the near post.
- Huge goal by Nick Spaling with under 30 seconds remaining in the first period. Under-rated play by Ryan Suter on the goal -- even though he didn't get an assist on the play, his forecheck created the turnover by Cam Fowler; Tootoo quick to the loose puck, relayed a pass to Spaling to tie the score.
- Fisher-Hornqvist-Kostitsyn have been good in the first period. Fisher created Nashville's first sscoring chance with a steal behind the Anaheim net on their second shift. After the Ducks scored, that line again created quality chances in front of Emery.
- Nashville with the first power-play of the game, an unforced holding call on Dan Sexton on the forecheck deep in the Nashville end. The Preds generated two decent scoring chances early in the power-play but were unable to convert.
POSTED ON Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 1:01 AM
Wow, what a finish to that game. Many have called this the biggest win in franchise history to date. There are other wins that can stake a similar importance, but hard to argue too much with that claim. However, with a win on Sunday, the historical significance of tonight's win will grow further.
Expect Anaheim to play with a lot of desperation on Sunday, Bridgestone Arena needs to be rocking to help counterbalance the equation. (Early preview, expect the first 10 minutes of play to be intense on Sunday)
Getting back to tonight, a three late-game points to remember:
- Mike Fisher's faceoff win was huge in setting up Shea Weber's overtime-forcing goal, but the screen set by both J-P Dumont and Patric Hornqvist was similarly important to the goal. Watch the replay from behind the net; no way for Ray Emery to see the puck coming. Also, interesting to note, instead of using his trademark slapshot, Weber scored the goal off a quick snap shot. And Cody Franson teed up a pretty easy pass for Weber to snap home -- it's an under-rated skill, but a perfect set-up is a big time help, especially on quick shots.
- Very fitting that the Smithson-Spaling-Tootoo line generated the game-winning goal. They were Nashville's most consistently dangerous line in tonight's game. Good to see them rewarded for their performances --- and each pick up a point on the winner. That line was quiet when the series opened in Anaheim for Games 1 and 2, but has been getting stronger as the series has gone on. Tonight was their best performance (what a play by Tootoo on the game's opening goal and another solid play to set up the game-winner) and Game 3 they were very noticeable (in a good way) as well.
- Key coaching decision by Barry Trotz and staff paid off on the game-tying goal. Nashville still had its timeout available with the late offensive zone faceoff. The Ducks had already used their timeout. Instead of using the timeout to rest his players and diagram a play, Coach Trotz let the guys play -- a consious decision not to allow Anaheim to regroup. The Ducks were coming off an icing call, so they couldn't change personnel, while the Preds could -- and did (sending Weber and Franson out to replace Blum and Suter --- Suter coming off a 1:36 shift). Consensus says to take the timeout there, but the Preds coaches had the pulse of their team and Anaheim's group on the ice and were rewarded for that feel.
POSTED ON Friday, 04.22.2011 / 10:08 PM
Thoughts and views from the second period of play at Honda Center...
- Rinne has been sharp tonight. He robbed Bobby Ryan from the top of the goal crease with 1:05 left in the period. He's been tracking plays really well; positioned well; quick on the couple of scrambles in front of him.
- The Preds got a pretty good scoring chance at the buzzer to end the period; came about because of an unforced icing by he Ducks with 12.5 seconds remaining in the frame.
- The Preds were doing a pretty good job on the PK until Sbisa put the puck to the front of the net; Nashville seemed to have good numbers in the area, but was unable to corral the puck and Jason Blake was able to jab it just under Rinne. On the sequence just prior to the goal Corey Perry tried to push Shea Weber on top of Rinne while Rinne was down to cover the puck; drew a scrum behind the net, but the officials ruled it wasn't warrented to move the faceoff out of the offensive zone.
- The Smithson-Spaling-Tootoo line continued its strong play early in the second period. Smithson got a moderate chance around two minutes into the period and then Tootoo drew Nashville's first power-play of the night (a high sticking call against George Parros).
- Nashville's power-play had strong zone time and generated a couple dangerous scoring chances, but was unable to convert.
- Really good defensive play by Joel Ward on the forecheck to strip Cam Fowler draw another power-play for the Preds; Fowler was forced to hook Ward to prevent a two-on-one from below the faceoff circles. The Legwand-Ward line (both with and without Erat) have drawn the majority of Nashville's PP opps this series.
- Don't let the scoresheet fool you; statistically they've awarded a good number of hits, but there haven't been many high-impact checks yet in this game -- at least not to the extent the first four games of the series have featured. Scrums after the whistle are starting to pick up here in the second, though, so....
- Noticed a couple of times the coaches have been double-shifting Suter and Weber with different d-partners; they've been playing regular shifts together, but might be a way to either get the big two some additional ice time or perhaps a way to mess with Anaheim's attempts to get away from match-ups?
POSTED ON Friday, 04.22.2011 / 9:14 PM
Thoughts and views from the first period at Honda Center...
- All-in-all a pretty good road period for the Preds. Surprisingly that was a relatively low-contact period by both sides; Game 1 was pretty chippy and the games have been getting more physical as the series has progressed, so a little surprising that the physical chippy-ness regressed a little in that first period. Shane O'Brien and Bobby Ryan exchanged some jousts as the first period buzzer sounded, so that might pick up the physicality heading into the second period?
- Really good read by Kevin Klein to join the rush with Tootoo on the goal; excellent patience by Tootoo to wait for the defender to go down and tuck the pass around him to Klein for the redirect goal. The Smithson-Spaling-Tootoo line had a pretty good start to the game; they had a productice shift their previous time on the ice. They also generated a moderate chance on their next shift after the goal.
- Pace started very slow as the teams combined for only four total shots (two a piece) through the first six minutes of play. Anaheim did have the first quality chance of the game, a partial breakaway for Teemu Selanne 1:21 into the game when Jonathon Blum stumbled at the blueline and Selanne was able to get a step on the rest of the Preds, but Rinne made the save.
- Nashville had a great opportunity to go up two goals with around 7:40 left in the period; good neutral zone play between Dumont and Sullivan to create space and numbers. Dumont came in on a partial break on his backhand. His first attempt was saved, but created a big rebound for O'Brien; O'Brien had a lot of net to look at, but put the shot high.
- Anaheim had the first power-play of the night -- a slashing call to Suter with 5:52 left in the period -- but Nashville did a strong job on the PK and prevented the Ducks from generating any dangerous chances.
- The Preds will need to clean up their defensive zone clears; late in the period they had a couple of sloppy clearing attempts that allowed the Ducks to retain additional zone time.
- The puck is bouncing around quite a bit tonight. Both teams will have to watch for that, especially defensemen -- can't have a puck hop over your stick and lead to a breakaway against.
POSTED ON Friday, 04.22.2011 / 9:01 PM
Rosters for tonight were just released; J-P Dumont in for Martin Erat. No other roster changes for the Preds. Coach Trotz was coy about his roster all day, but there were some hints before Game 1 of the series that Dumont was likely the next forward in the lineup if Nashville needed to make a move. Coach has praised Dumont's professionalism while he's been out of the lineup; he's put in a ton of time after practice working with the younger players.
Not sure if it figured into the decision, but remember the Dumont-Legwand-Ward line was Nashville's most effective line during last year's playoff series against Chicago. Matt Halischuk is opening the game with Legwand and Ward, but expect to see multiple wingers rotate through that slot.
POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.20.2011 / 6:53 PM
Thoughts and views from the second period of Game 4...
- The Preds power-play struck again to tie the game 5:44 into the second period. Great snap shot by Franson from the point; heck of a screen by Joel Ward in front of Emery --- Emery had no sight of the puck.
- Strong shift by Smithson-Spaling-Tootoo right after the game-tying goal; quality scoring chance for Spaling in the slot, but shot was deflected just over the crossbar.
- Very dangerous hit by Jarkko Ruutu to give the Preds the power-play for the game-tying goal; late behind the play and high on Martin Erat. Erat left the game with the aid of the Preds training staff. Ruutu was whistled for a minor for interferece.
- Ward called for a double-minor high-sticking 7:59 into the period. And Anaheim converted late in the second penalty to regain the lead.
- Anaheim called its timeout with 2:53 remaining in the double-minor --- one of the few games where both teams had burned their timeouts in the first half of the game.
- Under-rated plays by Halischuk and Klein on Nashville's third goal. Halischuk started the chance with a strong breakout to create numbers through transition, held up patiently for Klein to join the play and then went to the front of the net. Klein was forced wide around the net, but Emery was unable to get post-to-post while Klein was behind the net and Halischuk had an easy tap in from Klein's centering feed.
- Good shift by the Fisher-Hornqvist-Kostitsyn line with under a minute remaining in the period; forced Anaheim into a delay of game penalty that will carry over into the start of the third period.
- Erat left the game after Ruutu's hit. Steve Sullivan replaced him on the wing with Legwand and Ward.