Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Ducks eager for rematch with Rinne, Predators

Rita Gibson | 13 May, 2017, 07:13

The Ducks will host the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the teams' best-of-seven series at Honda Center. The last team to win in its Conference Finals debut was the 2004 Lightning, who then went on to win the Stanley Cup over the Flames.

Yahoo Sports' Greg Wyshynski takes a look at this matchup and some of the keys to the series, and explains why the Predators are winning the conference title.

The Ducks snapped a four-season Game 7 losing streak Wednesday with a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers that was their most complete performance of the 2017 postseason. They've won a league best nine straight playoff games dating back to game six of the Ducks series previous year.

Playoffs Editionimmediately after every game of the Western Conference Final between the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks.

The Ducks, meanwhile, have struggled on the penalty kill this postseason, giving up 13 goals with the extra man - six more than any other team. As for the Predators, well, they have 618 total post-season games played and nearly a quarter of that is tied up in captain Mike Fisher. So far, everything that has led to success for the Ducks has run through Getzlaf, and that could be troublesome heading into this series as Nashville can shut it down defensively. Thirteen different players have scored goals in the playoffs, including eight different players scoring game-winners through their eight playoff wins.

In the rematch, the Ducks hope to show the Predators what they learned last spring.

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Despite the Ducks finishing 11 points clear of the Predators in the standings, there wasn't much between these teams when they met during the regular season.

It would have been easy for the Predators to start their series against the Blues like Anaheim did; lackadaisical and with little urgency. They play a quick, efficient game as a unified bunch; you always know what you're going to get. "It will be a tough road but we are up to the challenge".

Anaheim has just two days to prepare to face another daunting obstacle from its playoff past: a 6-foot-5 Finnish goalie with a knack for stopping the Ducks in their playoff tracks. Nashville has won three of four playoff series as the lower-seeded team under coach Peter Laviolette.

If the playoffs ended today, one could make a good argument Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne should win the Conn Smythe as MVP. Even if Rinne falters, they can still rely on their elite defense corps to keep the puck out. Though Anaheim has scored slightly more often thus far in the playoffs (3.18 goals per game versus 2.80), there is quite a wide gulf in goals against, with the Predators allowing a paltry 1.40 goals per game, in comparison to Anaheim's 3.00. That includes its back end, as three of its top five scorers are defensemen. They're led by their four-headed monster, composed of Ryan Ellis, P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, and Mattias Ekholm.

"They're the team that put us out a year ago", Ryan Kesler said to reporters yesterday. "We're going to have to be prepared, and we'll start that process tonight and tomorrow morning". "There won't be any surprises and we feel we can handle anybody".


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