BATTLE OF THE NETMINDERS
Vezina Trophy Finalists Pekka Rinne and Roberto Luongo regained their regular season form in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals. Luongo stopped all 20 shots he faced for his third career playoff shutout while Rinne turned back 29 of the 30 shots he faced, including 16 in the game’s opening period. The goaltenders’ play in Game One continued the trend of strong performances when facing each other. Rinne was 2-2-0 against the Canucks this season with a 1.26 goals-against average, .962 save percentage and a 29-save shutout. Luongo was nearly as good, posting a 1.77 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.
CANUCKS AND PREDATORS TO SQUARE OFF AT THE NHL AWARDS
With the announcement of the Jack Adams Award nominees on Friday, both the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators are in excellent position to bring home some hardware from the 2011 NHL Awards, taking place June 22 in Las Vegas. The Canucks’ Alain Vigneault and the Predators’ Barry Trotz are in line for the coaching honors, joining their supervisors (Mike Gillis and David Poile for General Manager of the Year) and goaltenders (Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne for the Vezina Trophy) in receiving nominations. Nashville’s Shea Weber received a nod for the Norris Trophy, while Vancouver also received nominations for the Hart (Daniel Sedin) and Selke (Ryan Kesler). The President’s Trophy-winning Canucks clinched the Art Ross (Daniel Sedin) and Jennings trophies (Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider) in the regular season.
PLAYOFF QUICK HITS
After 984 regular season games and 34 postseason contests, the Nashville Predators advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 2011. Only three players remain from the team’s first postseason appearance in 2004 (David Legwand, Martin Erat and Jordin Tootoo)… Legwand and Shea Weber are tied for first in franchise playoff scoring (17 pts), while Erat is one point back. Legwand led the team in scoring in last year’s postseason, picking up seven points (2g-5a) in six games, tying Paul Kariya for highest single-series output in franchise history… Mike Fisher leads all Predators in playoff experience with 82 games – prior to 2011, all were with the Ottawa Senators. Jonathon Blum, Blake Geoffrion, Matt Halischuk and Anders Lindback all made their NHL playoff debuts in the WCQ… Rinne has doubled up Tomas Vokoun in franchise playoff victories, moving into first the category with six wins… Cody Franson notched four assists against the Ducks, setting a series franchise record for defensemen; Ryan Suter had three, to tie the previous mark... Joel Ward had a five-game point streak (3g-2a) snapped in Game One of the WCS. The streak was the longest in Predators postseason history… Nashville and Vancouver had never faced each other in the NHL playoffs prior to 2011.
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS GAME ONE
The teams were each 0-for-5 on the power play, continuing a trend from the regular season that saw only one special teams goal scored in the four matchups… The teams combined for 27 blocked shots (NSH 15, VAN 12)… Jerred Smithson won seven of his 10 face-offs, but the Predators were overmatched on the dots as a team, winning only 39 percent of the draws… Shea Weber doled out a team-high four hits… Ryan Suter played a game-high 29:00... Patric Hornqvist was called for three penalties after not having been sent to the box at all vs. Anaheim.
REGULAR SEASON SERIES WRAP-UP
Defenseman Shane O’Brien was acquired along with forward Dan Gendur from Vancouver on Oct. 5 in exchange for Ryan Parent and Jonas Andersson… The teams played all four of their games in the 2011 portion of the schedule, splitting the season series at two games apiece and alternating wins. The Predators are 18-25-6 against the Canucks all time, but 5-5-0 in the last 10 meetings… Nashville outscored Vancouver 8-6 in the four games. Special teams goals were hard to come by, with Nashville going 0-for-14 on the power-play, and Vancouver, the League’s top-ranked power-play (24.3 percent in the regular season), scoring only once against the Predators penalty kill… Martin Erat led Nashville skaters with four points (1g-3a)… Pekka Rinne was 2-2-0 against the Canucks this season with a 1.26 goals-against average, .962 save percentage and a 29-save shutout… Nick Spaling and Blake Geoffrion scored the game-winners in the Preds’ victories. For Geoffrion, it was his first career game-winning goal… Kevin Klein and Sergei Kostitsyn were each a team-leading +3… Suter played at least 26 minutes in three of the four games… The Canucks’ win on March 29 snapped a five-game winning streak for Nashville and was one of only two regulation losses in the Predators’ final 12 games of the regular season.
CAREER HIGHS/HIGHLIGHTS ATTAINED INVOLVING THE CANUCKS Martin Erat – Scored the second of his two career hat tricks and notched a career-high four points on Dec. 8, 2009 against Vancouver. Joel Ward – Played his first NHL game on Dec. 16, 2006 against the Canucks (with Minnesota). Shea Weber – Recorded a career-high 10 shots on goal on Feb. 21, 2008 against Vancouver (attained twice). Steve Sullivan (15g-15a-30pts in 37 gp) and Erat (8g-16a-24pts in 32 gp) lead the Predators in production against the Canucks in their careers… Rinne has an all-time record of 4-4-0 with a 1.89 goals-against average and a shutout against Vancouver. Lindback has never faced the Canucks… O’Brien played two seasons with the Canucks, picking up 18 points (2g-16a) and a +21 rating in 141 games. He also had five points (2g-3a) in 22 playoff games for Vancouver… Jerred Smithson is a native of Vernon, B.C., while Weber and Franson both call Sicamous, B.C., home. Franson and Blum both played their junior careers with the Vancouver Giants (WHL), capturing the Memorial Cup in 2007. Blum finished his career as the Giants’ all-time leader in points by a defenseman… Shea Weber (Canada), Ryan Suter (United States), Patric Hornqvist (Sweden), Marcel Goc (Germany), Martin Erat (Czech Republic), and Sergei Kostitsyn (Belarus) all participated in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS WRAP-UP
(5) Nashville Predators def. (4) Anaheim Ducks, 4-2
The series was the first postseason matchup between Nashville and Anaheim… Nashville achieved a number of notable franchise firsts, including the team’s first overtime victory and first series victory… Eighteen of the Predators’ 19 skaters earned at least one point, with 16 earning at least two points. Defensemen factored into 14 of Nashville’s 22 goals… Fisher led the team with six points (3g-3a), one shy of the franchise high for points in a single series. Weber’s three goals and five points were the most by a defenseman in Predators postseason history… Four different Predators scored game-winning goals… Nashville’s 3.67 goals per game were the second highest of the first round (Detroit, 4.50). The Predators outscored Anaheim 15-10 in five-on-five play, the third highest ratio of the playoffs so far (behind Detroit and Washington)… A goal was scored in every period of the series… In five of the six games, the Predators outshot the Ducks, recorded at least 30 shots and held Anaheim to fewer than 30 shots. Hornqvist set a franchise mark with 29 shots in the series… Nashville won 54 percent of the face-offs against Anaheim. Legwand, Spaling, Smithson, Geoffrion and Fisher were all above 50 percent on the dots… The Nashville power play went 6-of-27 (22 percent), scoring in five of the six games.