Ducks-Predators face off in round 1--Oh Boy!
I feel like Jay-Z said it best on his hit single "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)": It's. About. To Go. Down!
Yes, those words perfectly describe my excitement for the playoffs, more specifically the series between the Nashville Predators and the Anaheim Ducks. As I mentioned in my previous TCL post, the Ducks are a force to be reckoned with. With great offense, positive momentum and playoff experience (including a Stanley Cup win in 2007), Anaheim is a very serious contender this year.
Don't let the hype fool you. though. Nashville is not a bad team by any stretch. True, they don't score as many goals. In fact, the Predators' lead scorer, Sergei Kostitsyn, has 23 goals on the season, which is less than half of what Anaheim's Corey Perry racked up. Even without a superstar forward, the Predators have five players who made 17 goals or more this season. This could prove to show more options than fans and analysts give them credit for.
Nashville's defense will only give them a small push in the competition. Shea Weber had a great season with Nashville, finishing 10th in the NHL among defenseman (in points), but the guy who lead all others this season just happens to be Lubomir Visnovsky (who plays for Anaheim). Ryan Suter has made a great partner for Weber, though. Suter has improved since last season and the rest of Nashville's blue line is young, talented and deep. Facing the NHL's leading defenseman will not be so one sided in that case.
If Nashville is to walk away from this series as the victor, then it will rely on the talents in the net. Pekka Rinne has been incredible. He is second among all goalies in save percentage (.930) and third in SAA (2.12). Definitely the most valuable player on the Nashville team, he will be looked at to lead them through the series. This wouldn't make the first time a goalie has led a team through the playoffs. Anaheim knows that all too well.
And while Rinne will be the key in determining how long this series lasts, I can't help but to offer my predictions. If you're a Nashville fan and reading this, I will keep this short.
Anaheim has too many options on offense, and they also lack a crappy defense. Will they score as often as the numbers imply? No. Rinne isn't going to be easy to score on, but he will be scored on. Also, it won't matter who Anaheim has in the net, probably Dan Ellis, but Nashville doesn't have the offense to get to the net in the first place, certainly not often enough to make an impact.
I don't think it will be a sweep, but I think the Ducks will take this series in 6. Why would I build a team up, just to make the playoffs seem so simple? I wouldn't call it minimizing. The action is certainly going to be exciting to watch, but at the end of it all, someone has to win. Nashville had a 3-1 advantage over Anaheim at the end of the season, but they also have never come out of a first round in the playoffs.