Blogs
POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.20.2011 / 5:55 PM

Thoughts and views from the first period of play at Bridgestone Arena...

 - Very strong start by the Anaheim Ducks. Getzlaf had the game's first scoring chance around 35 seconds into the period. Shea Weber cleared a puck off the goal line 3:10 into the game after Rinne made the inital save and puck started to trickle toward the far post.

 - Ducks drew the first power-play of the game and converted --- from his body language Shane O'Brien opined that Todd Marchant took a dive on the play to get the benefit of the call. The Preds did a pretty good job early in the PK, but had two chances at easy clears on the sequence before Anahaim scored and failed to get the puck out of the zone both times.

 - Anaheim answered with their second goal 33 seconds later --- eerily similar to Game 2 --- an even strength goal off good pressure.

 - Barry Trotz used his timeout after the second Ducks goal and the move paid off --- Patric Hornqvist answered on the next shift to get the Preds on the board. Cross ice post-to-post pass by Kostitsyn to Hornqvist for the easy tap-in. Very similar play to both the Fisher and Legwand third period goals from Game 3. The majority of Nashville's goals against Emery have come courtesy of similar plays; move the puck across the crease and he hasn't been able to slide side-to-side quick enough to recover.

 - A pair of big saves for Rinne on Anaheim's second power-play -- he robbed Teemu Selanne early and made a big save on Jason Blake as the penalty expired.

 - The Erat-Legwand-Ward line drew Nashville's first power-play. They combined for three goals and seven points in the first three games of the series, but that line has also been responsible for drawing the majority of Nashville's PP opps through the first 10 periods of the series. The Preds generated three high quality scoring chances on the PP, but just missed knotting the score --- the closest may have been a backdoor feed to Suter, but the pass just missed (he would have had an empty net tap in).

 - The Fisher-Hornqvist-Kostitsyn line has been Nashville's most dangerous line again tonight. Not only did they net the Preds goal and create the team's best chances on the power-play opportunity, they very nearly tied the game as the final minute of play announcement was being made -- Hornqvist's shot produced a big rebound and Kostitsyn chipped the puck over Emery, but Anaheim's defense was able to tip it away from the net.

 - Strong first period for Anaheim forward Jason Blake -- he's been a factor five-on-five and on the power-play. He entered the game without a point -- and with just seven shots on goal -- through the first three games of the series.
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.19.2011 / 3:45 PM

Notes and Thoughts from today's Preds practice at Centennial Sportsplex between Games 3 and 4 of the Conference Quarterfinals...

- Video Interviews from today: Coach Trotz | Ryan Suter | Shane O'Brien

- Full slate of players on the ice today for the Preds. No changes to the line combinations today:
    Gray - Fisher centering Hornqvist and Kostitsyn
    White - Legwand centering Erat and Ward
    Yellow - Smithson centering Spaling and Tootoo
    Burgendy - Geoffrion centering Halischuk and Sullivan
    Blue - O'Reilly centering Dumont and Wilson

 - The Preds split the time between the two sheets of ice at Centennial on the one sheet they worked mostly on skating and line drills -- heavy emphasis on two-on-one drills and full line rushes. When the team switched over to the other sheet of ice they concentrated more on zone play and special teams. The practice ended with shooting drills.


 - The Fisher-Hornqvist-Kostitsyn line was sharp in practice today, especially during power-play drills with Suter and Weber at the points. Hornqvist was especially eye-opening.


 - Anders Lindback was the unsung hero of the practice. He was worked to exhaustion, especially during the final shooting drills, and then remained out on the ice to work extra time with the late group, including Dumont and O'Reilly. He's been a tremendous workhorse in practice all year and continued to battle and put out a good effort for the skaters again today.


 - Barry Trotz talked about this year's team and the comparisons to last year's playoff series:
"This group is a different group than last year. This group is relentless in what they're doing. It starts with the leadership group and goes from there. Because we're so young we've used a little smaller leadership group than the past few years, but it's been working."


 - Steve Sullivan talked about how this team, despite being one of the youngest he's played on, is one of the easiest team's he's been a leader for:
"Everybody is on board. Everybody believes in accountability and no one takes shortcuts. When your leader is your hardest worker you have no choice but to work hard. No one is taking shortcuts, everyone is doing their job, so yeah, absolutely, it's an easy room (to lead)."


 - Sullivan talked about the effects of Matt Halischuk's speed on that line:
"It sure makes things easier for me. I know when I get in there hard on the forecheck that he's going be in there right behind me, doing his job, so that makes it even harder on the other team. Sometimes when the first guy goes in hard and no one else is up there to keep it going, they can still make that first past and get the clear. So now we're getting a lot of zone time because all three of us are getting in and doing our jobs and eliminating their outs.


 - Trotz talked about Jonathon Blum's play during the first three games of the series:
"He’s played really well. Jon is an outstanding young man. He’s really poised and it doesn’t affect him. He has a sense for the game and he’s done a great job for us."


  - Trotz touched on Shane O'Brien and the penalties he's taken this series.
"O'B knows that he needs to be more disciplined in terms of the penalties and he’s made a conscience effort to do that. You see his penalty minutes this year have been way down than ever before. So he’s done a really good job. He’ll still have a moment or two when he’ll take a penalty, but for the most part he’s 100-times better than he was three or four years ago. He’s one of the best team guys you can have."


 - Sullivan talked about how impressed he was with the play of Anaheim rookie defenseman Cam Fowler:
"He's a very under rated defenseman, very mobile. I haven't seen a defenseman skate like him in a long time. When they called him the next Scott Niedermayer they probably weren't far off. His speed is very fast out there. He cut through the one time (in Game 3) to get a break away. He's got a lot of skill. He was definitely the steal of that draft."

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POSTED ON Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 4:07 PM

Thoughts and views from the second period at Bridgestone Arena...

 - The 27-10 shots on goal is much more an indicator of how one-sided the game has been than the 2-2 score.

 - Good start to the period by the Preds, drawing an early power-play. The PP unit was strong again, generating three quality scoring chances. Key play by Francois Beauchemin to deny an attempt by David Legwand -- Emery was out of position and would have been hard pressed to cover the side of the net Legwand was eyeing.

 - The Ducks are starting to lose their composure late in this second period -- taking some runs and spears at the Preds behind the play. But the officials are allowing it, so the Preds need to adjust accordingly.

 - Geoffrion's stick reach is impressive; reeled in a two-on-one pass from Sullivan for a dangerous chance early in the period and beat a Ducks defender to a loose puck to create a solid opportunity for Halischuk and Sullivan with around six minutes left in the period.

 - Rare time when two star players drop the gloves -- Fisher and Getzlaf went with 3:05 left in the period.

 - Great play by Corey Perry on Anaheim's first goal to strip Suter from behind before he was able to clear the puck out of danger. Anaheim got a fortuitous bounce on their second goal when a strange carom off the glass popped the puck out front.

 - Ducks gained the momentum over the closing stretch of the period, perhaps their best 2-3 minute stretch of the series, thusfar.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 3:15 PM

Thoughts and views from the first period at Bridgestone Arena...

  - The crowd is electric tonight. You can feel the energy and excitement in the building; much more so than was present during Games 1 and 2 at Honda Center.

 - Blake Geoffrion with the game's first great scoring chance -- a rebound chance off a shot from Tootoo.

 - Jerred Smithson whistled for the game's first penalty. A little unlucky -- he got tangled up along the boards and was called for the trip. Excellent PK by the Preds though, holding the Ducks without a shot (and without a dangerous passing attempt). Nashville got a decent chance on the breakout after the kill.

 - The Fisher-Hornqvist-Kostitsyn line remains the most dangerous five-on-five line in this series.

 - Good start to the game by the Smithson-Spaling-Tootoo trio. They were a little quiet in the Anaheim games, but opened strong in the first 10 minutes tonight and were rewarded later in the first period with Tootoo's goal to make it 2-0 seconds after Erat opened the scoring. And nearly had a second goal when Spaling created a turnover behind the Anaheim net with 1:10 left in the period

 - Preds with another power-play goal. The effectiveness of the Nashville power-play is quickly becoming a theme to the series. That's four goals already in the series and a couple other PPs where they were dangerous. Goal was scored crashing the net; Nashville had a good chance moments earlier with Franson cutting down low to join the play -- Franson remained down low and was rewarded when the puck worked around the back of the net to Franson on the weak side; Franson put the puck to the front of the net and Erat cleaned it up for the first goal.

 - Don't forget the key saves by Rinne on Todd Marchant with around 40 seconds left in the period; the Ducks only had four shots in the opening period, but those stops allowed Nashville to skate into the locker room with a two-goal lead.
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POSTED ON Friday, 04.15.2011 / 8:38 PM

Thoughts and views from the second period...

 - Bounces not going the Preds way tonight, Anaheim's second and fourth goals both came as a result of unlucky bounces in the slot --- one heading to Selanne on the power-play, the other going to Getzlaf as a power-play expired.

 - Third goal was a turning point to the game. Nashville had grabbed momentum down the back stretch of the first period and carried it into the second period. When the Preds converted the power-play goal to pull within one score, things seemed very much in Nashville's direction.

 - Bobby Ryan rebound goal -- nothing Rinne could do; got behind Kevin Klein for a redirect (save) and then put home the rebound. Ducks had sustained pressure in the Preds end; Nashville changed up on the clear, but a quick outlet by the Ducks countered before the Preds could get re-set. Key moment of the game --- it felt like Nashville had stolen the momentum before that sequence.

 - Lubomir Visnovsky returned for the start of the second period for the Ducks. He plays a major role in what they do along the blueline, so it will be interesting to see how healthy/effective he can be.

 - Nashville converted after an undisciplined penalty by George Parros --- kudos to Jerred Smithson for drawing the penalty. Nashville's power-play was sharp; generated three great scoring chances before converting on the fourth. Corey Perry lost his stick on the play, which gave the Preds an additional edge on the power-play and Nashville didn't give Anaheim an opportunity to clear or freeze the puck. The Preds next power-play generated three more quality scoring chances --- if Nashville can continue to get power-play chances tonight, you have to like their odds of converting again.

 - Power-play came about when Parros picked a fight with Jerred Smithson 3:07 into the second period -- Parros tried to initiate with Smithson early in the first period as well. Both were given minors for roughing and Parros was given an extra minor  to put the Preds on the power-play. Parros tried to fight Smithson again on his first shift out of the penalty box. Something to keep an eye on as the series moves on.

 - Huge save by Emery midway through the period on Erat's odd-man rush and Klein's follow-up attempt to keep the Ducks up two goals.

 - Geoffrion-Halischuk-Sullivan has been Nashville's second most effective line --- and has been rewarded with some additional shifts already tonight. They got a lot of shifts following special teams situations.



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POSTED ON Friday, 04.15.2011 / 1:06 PM

Updates from today's morning skate session at Honda Center...

- Coach Trotz indicated same lineup tonight as Game 1.

 - Coach Trotz talked about the difference between intensity in Game 1 and intensity during the regular season:
"I think we've been in playoffs mode for almost two months. It's ramped up a little bit, but the feeling last night wasn't a different feeling (than many of those games). I don't think it changes a whole lot, which is kind of cool that it didn't. Sometimes it changes so much that it seems very daunting, so it didn't seem very daunting."

 - On Klein and Blum...
"On the road you're not going to get every match-up and we felt confident Blummer and Klein would do a good job (if they were matched up against Anaheim's top line). And O'Brien and Franson were matched against them a little in Game 1, too. We feel pretty confident that everybody can do the job. But defense isn't just two guys, it's five guys and that's how our mentality is."

- On the residual benefits of the late-season game against Detroit...
"There's always a tipping point for a young guy where he goes ok, I get it, I know what it's going to be like. That (game against Detroit) was probably one of those games that helped (our younger guys) get to that point. Helped them learn what to expect. They're actually quite calm now; they're joking and laughing, those type of things. They feel pretty comfortable right now."

- On the benefits to having balanced depth...
"We're interchangeable, so sometimes the match-ups aren't as big a deal to me as maybe to some other team. We don't have too many game-breakers right now up front, but I always say in the playoffs, there's always a game-breaker that you didn't expect. I was in Washington several years ago and the John Druce story; he was barely in the lineup (at the start of the playoffs) and all of the sudden scores 14 goals. You get hot at the right time, like Blake Geoffrion when we called him up; if he didn't do that for us, then I don't think we'd be here. So there's always going to be a hero. There's going to be a new hero tonight ... for both teams really."

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POSTED ON Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 7:48 PM

Notes and Thoughts from today's Preds practice at Honda Center between Games 1 and 2 of the Conference Quarterfinals...

 - Today's player post-practice interviews: Rinne | Klein | Halischuk

 - Coach Trotz talked about today's focus: "There's lots of work to be done and today was just sort of going over a few things that we can get a little better on. And the really we have to hit the reset button tomorrow; its Game 2. Get Game 2 that's all we have to focus on right now."

 - Optional skate today -- the coaches gave the players the choice to skate either today or tomorrow. Most of the Preds went on the ice today. The more noteable omissions were Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn who both opted for off-ice workouts. Coach Trotz said both were fine and both would be in the lineup for Game 2.

 - Quick pace to practice; lots of up-tempo skating drills -- breakaways, one-on-ones, two-on-ones.

 - Patric Hornqvist has now been on the ice for 11 of Nashville's 21 goals scored against the Ducks this season, including two of the four game-winning goals, and just one of Anaheim's 12 goals scored against the Preds. Hornqvist has been effective against the Ducks on three different lines (3 goals and 7 points in the four regular season games and 1 point in the playoff series opener) --- posting 2 goals and 1 assist with O'Reilly and Sullivan in the first two games of regular season series, 1 goal and 1 assist with Goc and Kostitsyn in the January meeting, and with Fisher and Kostitsyn in the last two match-ups. Coach Trotz said of Hornqvist's success vs. Anaheim, "They're a team that, to have success against, you have to go to the interior; you have to come off the wall hard, you have to go to the front of the net and not back down. He does that and that's why he has success. He's a part of the series. He makes it difficult on goals; he set the screen on the first goal last night. He gets to the interior very well, so he's a guy who can really be a factor against goalies, especially if they like to come out and challenge. He is a factor whenever there's a puck going to the front of the net."

 - Coach Trotz talked about the importance of the first period power-play goal last night: "You're going to need both sides of the special teams to be good. Just like a big save, a key power-play goal at the right time can really lift you and last night it got us the first one, so, it felt good."

 - Coach Trotz talked about Steve Sullivan's role and how the coaches plan on using him in Game 2: "One of the mistakes we've made in the past -- and I guess this is where experience comes in -- Sully's been in this position a couple of times trying to come back right at the end of the season and into the playoffs and we ramped him up into a real high role and for the most part he's struggled in that role. It's hard to go from zero to 60 when you've been out for so long and he's had a few frustrating playoffs because of it. So from experience we said we're not going to ramp him up, we're just going to put him in a little less of a role and if he can contribute from there then we'll build from there."

 - Coach Trotz talked about how Mike Fisher's physical play will impact the series: "He's a hard player to play against. There are guys that are easy guys to play against because they don't really create contact; they may skate well or handle the puck well but they're not hard to play against. Jerred Smithson's a hard guy to play against. Mike Fisher's a hard guy to play against. Those are the subtlties that you always like in playoff time and as the series goes on they wear an opponent out. And that's the type of person that Fisher is."




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POSTED ON Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 12:11 AM

Random Thoughts After Tonight's Game 1

- Very different feel to the Preds locker room after Game 1 this year than there was after Game 1 last year; much more business-like, much more focused. Last year there seemed to be a sense of relief over winning a road playoff game (the first in franchise history at that point). This year it was much more a "regular season" feel with a "game's over now it's time to focus on the next game" type of feel to the post-game.

- Textbook perfect road game by the Preds; they withstood an early charge by the home team, countered with the game's opening goal, limited Anaheim to eight shots a piece in both the first and second periods, took the crowd out of the game, expanded to a multi-goal lead and never allowed Anaheim to regain momentum.

- Pekka Rinne was outstanding tonight. It's tough to give him too much credit for his performance, especially early in the game. He made a key stop on Jason Blake with the game's first good scoring chance (less than a minute into the game) and later in the first period he robbed Teemu Selanne with a highlight reel save that had the press corps buzzing all night. The Ducks tried jamming the net all night and he stayed strong, physical, composed. Goaltending was the biggest difference between the two teams tonight and Rinne deserves the kudos for that.

- Mike Fisher has continued his pace from the end of the season. Great snap wrist shots on both goals tonight. That line --- Fisher, Hornqvist, Kostitsyn --- has been a huge part of the Preds success over the last month.

- Blake Geoffrion and Jonathon Blum both picked up points tonight in their playoff debuts; gets rid of a lot of jitters to not only get the first game out of the way but to also get that first point out of the way.

- The rejuvination of Steve Sullivan was a big plus for the Preds tonight. If he -- and that line with Geoffrion and Halischuk -- can remain dangerous in limited ice time it will make the Preds a much tougher match-up as the series continues. Geoffrion and Sullivan were rewarded with power-play time in the third period after the Preds grabbed the 4-0 lead.

- Interesting to see how Anaheim decides to use its goaltenders the remainder of the series. Ellis was pulled after the fourth goal early in the third period. Coach Carlyle tip-toed around the question during his post-game press conference. The Preds coaches felt coming into the series that -- if the Preds got a lead in the series -- the Ducks would be likely to try a goaltending change at some point in the series, so any change would not alter their pre-series prep work, but will be an interesting topic of speculation during the off-day tomorrow.

- Good job by the Preds finishing out the game; it had been a point of emphasis after Anaheim's near-comeback in Nashville a few weeks ago. Great to get the opportunity to exorcize those demons early in the series. Shows the learning curve of this young team.

- By grabbing a multi-goal lead in the second period the Preds were able to spead defensemen ice time around a little more than maybe was planned. Both Ryan Suter and Shea Weber were under 25:00 minutes of ice time --- around 2-3 minutes less than they had been logging the last month or so. Kevin Klein and Jonanthon Blum were both over their regular season average ice times and both over 20:00. It might not seem like a lot, but saving that wear and physical drain can pay dividends for the Preds later in the series.

- Preds did a very good job on the penalty kill; Anaheim's five-on-three goal aside, the Preds limited the Ducks chances. The remaining kill on the back-half of the two-man disadvantage was key; Legwand, Erat, Suter, Weber steadied the play for the Preds and even controlled possession of the puck for some significant portions of time.

- The Ducks showed some frustration in the third period -- both in body language and with some undisciplined play. It will be interesting to see if there is any carryover effect in Game 2.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.13.2011 / 8:39 PM

Thoughts from the Honda Center for Period 2


- The Legwand/Erat/Ward line drew a penalty on the first shitf of the second period; their second power-play created tonight-- strong board work by Ward to get the puck in deep and good shifty move along the halfboards by Erat to draw the tripping penalty.

- Some interesting mixing and matching of lines from both coaches to try to get favorable match-ups. Will be interesting to hear both coach comments post-game and what adjustments continue throughout the series. Anaheim's used Brad Winchester as "the other wing" with some of their top forwards. Nick Spaling has been on some short shifts for the Preds outside of his normal line shifts.

- I'm not sure if there is any offesive star who does more skickwork (poking, slashing, hooking) away from the play than Corey Perry. He's as adept a player as there is in the game at using that to get inside opponents' heads (and draw penalties later in the game). Preds need to be very disciplined against Perry. Tried to get into it with Erat early in the period and speared Rinne after the final buzzer to the period.

- Sullivan with the goal on a broken play/strange bounce off the glass on dump in off the glass by Franson (looked like Franson was just trying to chip the puck out of the neutral zone) --- showed great speed to beat the Ducks defenseman down the wing. Ellis made a nice save on the first move, but Sullivan had enough time for a second chance to make it 2-0. If the Geoffrion/Halischuk/Sullivan line continue to provide this much energy and continue with productive shifts, look for Coach Trtotz to ease them into more minutes (already looks like they've taken a shift or two in this second period that previously had gone to the Smithson/Spaling/Tootoo line). Definitely a good development for the Preds if they continue this level of play.

- Underrated blue-collar play by Hornqvist on the Fisher goal; withstood the hit from Toni Lydman to slide the puck down to Fisher.

- Also don't overlook the play Klein made to trigger the breakout; Klein made a strong play coming out from the corner, which allowed Fisher to gather a full head of speed coming out of the zone -- and put the Preds in a position where they were entering the neutral zone with favorable numbers.



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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.13.2011 / 7:52 PM
First Period Thoughts from Honda Center

- Coach Trotz opted to dress Steve Sullivan for the opener; Colin Wilson came out of the lineup. Sully responded with a trong first period; limited ice time, but he was quick and creative when he got the opportunities. If Coach can get 7-10 minutes of that type of play out that line, the Preds are going to be dangerous in the series.

- All-in-all a good road period in the first. Both teams had some dangerous opportunities. Nasvhille did a pretty good job getting pucks and traffic to the front of the net; didn't result in many shots, but did cause some scramble opportunities around the Anaheim net.

- Mike Fisher was VERY engaged in the play during the first period. He was definitely Nashville's most physical forward in the period, both initiating contact and standing up for teammates in scrappy situations. Fisher had a couple scrums and shoving battles away from the play.

- Quietly a strong period by Kevin Klein. He was out for a few long shifts and made all the basic plays he need to make; was strong enough in one-on-one battles. He's made good decisions when to challenge, when to jon the play, and when to be conservative. If Klein can continue to play like this all series, it bodes very well for the Preds chances.

- Incredibly quick start to the game. The Ducks came out fast -- controlled the play from the start. Jason Blake got the first good scoring chance of the game on the rush up the win less than a half minute in.

- Key early shift from the Smithson line; they were the first Preds line to change the zone of possession for the Preds. After they got the puck in deep, the Legwand line drew a penalty on the next shift. (Nashville converted on the power-play for the early lead.

- Preds good possession on the power-play a couple good chances by the Fisher/Hornqvist duo. Forced the Ducks to pay attention down low, which opened up the point for Weber's blast to open the scoring.

- Sergei Kostitsyn appeared to get hurt on the power-play in the corner behind the net -- he was skating off the ice and into the locker room as Weber scored the power-play goal (Kostitsyn returned to action after Anaheim's power-play and drew Nashville's second power-play of the period)

- Good PK work by the Preds to preserve the lead, followed by a strong answer from the Ducks PK unit in the middle of the period.

- Really good shift by the Fisher line with under 3:00 left in the period. Nifty move by Kostitsyn down the wing to create offensive zone possession. Moments later made a good pass to Hornqvist in front for a point-blank try (good save by Ellis).
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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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