Western Conference Semifinal Preview: Canucks vs. Predators

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The President Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks look to avoid the hangover from defeating their long-time rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks, in an emotional seven-game series that had everything from injuries, to suspensions, to returns, to blow outs and even a few jobs on the line. Unfortunately, standing in the way are the Nashville Predators, a rugged, hard working team with a Vezina candidate and a Norris candidate ensuring that it won’t be easy for Canada’s only remaining team. Can the Canucks prevail, or will the Predators surprise everyone once again?

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Prax’s Take :

The Vancouver Canucks had a, shall we say, interesting first round series against one of their biggest rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks took them to seven games and almost completed the legendary 0-3 comeback. But in the end, Roberto Luongo seemingly overcame his demons and finally took the Canucks past the Hawks and into the second round, in the process, saving the jobs of about a dozen people. But do the Canucks have enough in them to forget about their emotional victory – or near-disaster, if you will – and take on an underrated and under-appreciated Nashville Predators team?

The focus around this series seems to be squarely around the Canucks. About what they did, what they can do, what they might do and what they won’t do. The Preds, waiting patiently, could very well own this hype and surprise a weary group of Canucks. They have great goaltending, a Norris candidate on the blueline, a guy that should be a Jack Adams candidate behind the bench, and a hard-working group of forwards that have overcome their lack of top-end skill and have bought into the system. They’re not nearly as deep or talented as the Canucks are, but they’ll fight to the bitter end to beat you, and they could very well stand a chance of winning this series.

They COULD win the series. Unfortunately, I don’t think they will. Call me crazy, but I don’t think they’re even going to win a game. All this focus on the Canucks has taken focus away from the fact that the Preds can’t score goals, and that their defence and tending wasn’t as good against the Anaheim Ducks as it was during the season. The Canucks will be a possessed team in this round, and will win four straight for their fans and their management group.

Bold Prediction: Canucks sweep in 4.

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AROUND THE CHECKING LINE:

HockeyBroad: Vancouver's hungry, but Nashville's hungrier. Nashville has had extra time to rest, and a highly emotional, seven-game series will have tapped Vancouver's strongest desire this year; to beat Chicago. Pekka Rinne is right there for the Vezina for good reason, and Shea Weber and company are going to go to town on the Canucks. Vancouver thinks they got physical with Chicago? Yeah... real tough to beat up a team that's already hurting.
Prediction: Predators in 6.

Owen Durkin: The Canucks have dominated against the league's best all season, Chicago being the only real Achilles heal. With that distraction now behind them, as detailed in my round one predictions, Vancouver will power their way to the finals, but Schneider had best stay limber, and ready at play as the finals are still a long ways away. Bobby Lou's confidence has been bolstered, but he'll need rest at some time sooner than later.
Prediction : Canucks in 6.

Micheal Aldred: If anything came out of Alex Burrows' performance in Game 7 against the Blackhawks, it was clutch and grit. His penalty in overtime followed by his series-winning goal pushed the Canucks forward in a more positive light, and you can certainly guarantee the momentum will create a surge within the organization. I expect the Canucks to run over the Predators in 5 games as they ride that high.
Prediction: Canucks in 5.

Newman: The win over Chicago is a GIGANTIC monkey off this team's back. Nashville is a good team and will definitely put up a fight, and probably take a couple games, but I think Vancouver prevails.
Prediction: Canucks in 6.

Adam Pardes: Has Roberto Luongo been perfect? Far from it. But the Canucks hard nose style, along with the emergence of the Sedins will ultimately be the difference in this series. Vancouver simply has too many weapons on offense and their defense really clicked in Game 7 against the Blackhawks. Congrats to the Preds for reaching the second round but your season ends here.
Prediction: Canucks in 6.

Jonathan Szekeres: The Canucks are coming off an absolutely gigantic win versus the Blackhawks. When I say huge, I mean emotionally, I mean physically, and I mean mentally. They will only get one day to relax before going at it with a very well coached Predators squad. Great goaltending is sure to be afoot, as two Vezina nominees will square off, with a rejuvenated Roberto Luongo, fresh off exercising his demons, and a up and comer with something to prove in Pekka Rinne. The defenses are also outstanding, with Shea Weber and Ryan Suter trolling the blueline for the Preds, while the Canucks have the deepest top six in the league, even with Sami Salo out of the lineup. The Canucks chances in this series depends solely on their core, namely, Ryan Kesler who has yet to get a goal, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Roberto Luongo. The Preds chances in the series depends on their entire lineup stepping up to play the top team in the league. They don't score a lot of goals, so everyone from top to bottom has to contribute. It won't be as exciting as the Blackhawks series, but look for a relaxed Canuck team to take it in six.
Prediction: Canucks in 6.

Alicia Sprenkle: The Vancouver Canucks exercised their demons Tuesday night against Chicago. That was the ultimate hurdle for the Canucks, and now that they are over it, I don't see anything stopping them from going further and further. It should be a very tough series for the Preds.
Prediction: Canucks in 5.

Adam Reid: The Predators fairytale first round victory is over. They did not deserve to win the series against Anaheim despite how hard they battled. On paper, the Ducks had them terribly covered. Vancouver went through instrumental pressure in the first round, knowing the chips were against them despite finishing first overall. They had quite the hill to climb, and after losing three straight to Chicago, they felt down and out. But, the overtime winner by Burrows brought life back into the Canucks , and they will easily handle the Predators.
Prediction: Canucks in 6.

Jordan Kuhns: This one is gonna be a good one. I foresee another long series for the Canucks to deal with here. On one side, you have Pekka Rinne, who is playing pretty well. On the other hand, you have Roberto Luongo, who just barely, and I mean, just barely got out of the first round against the Chicago Blackhawks with extremely average play. The Canucks have banished their demons, but it took a lot out of their tank to take care of the Hawks. I have a feeling that the Preds are on to something good. They played very well on both sides of the puck, and they showed they can play a textbook road game, as evidenced in game one of the quarterfinals. The Canucks are capable of everything. Solid top 9 forwards, solid 6 D. But can they play good enough with the chronic playoff struggler in net? I have no doubt in my mind the pressure is completely on Roberto Luongo. And I get the feeling he won't even come close to living up to it.
Prediction: Predators in 6.

Shahab Khan: I still don't believe in the Canucks, don't believe in the Luongo and don't believe in the Sedins. Nashville is boring but will win due to its' style. This will be the most boring series of the lot.
Prediction: Predators in 6.

Steve Palumbo: The Predators are riding the momentum they created from disposing of the Anaheim Ducks and earning the first playoff series win in franchise history. The Canucks come into this series on the heels of a near epic collapse culminating with a thrilling game 7 win over last years Stanley Cup Champs. My heart tells me to stick with the hot power play in Nashville, but my head tells me they won't beat the 'Nucks giving up over 3 goals a game as they did against the Ducks.
Prediction: Canucks in 6.

Jason Pietroniro: This is going to be a tough series. Although Vancouver dominates the Preds as far as scoring is concerned, you cannot could Nashville out. Their system is proven and they are hard to beat defensively. Anaheim had one of the best scoring lines in the league and they were not able to win in 7 games. Watch for this series to be tighter that it seems at first glance.
Prediction : Predators in 6.

Kyle Busch: Seeing that Vancouver struggled against Chicago, why not Nashville? The Predators are an underdog already, knocking out Anaheim, so I expect them to give Vancouver a rough series. Vancouver probably learned their lesson from screwing around with the Blackhawks, but then again, they've been a top team for a few years now and can't get past the second round.
Prediction: Canucks in 6

Larry D’Angelo: Vancouver and Nashville are coming off big series wins as the Preds made it out of the first round for the first time in their brief history. While the Canucks barely held on to win the series against Chicago after winning the first three, going up 3-0. It would take OT in game 7 for the Canucks to shake that Blackhawk monkey from their backs. Vancouver has a tad bit more talent which gives they a slight edge in would should be a tight series.
Prediction: Canucks in 7.

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Tune back in in the coming hours and days for the rest of our series previews!

Sharks vs. Wings Preview

Caps vs. Bolts Preview

Flyers vs. Bruins Preview

7 Comments

Jason Pietroniro's picture

Sweep in four? NO CHANCE,PRAX! I wanted to call a Detroit sweep but the Sharks are tricky this year.

George Prax's picture

People didn't give the Preds any credit two weeks ago, now they're giving them too much credit. Anaheim had no defense and no goaltending, and they destroyed their defense and goaltending. The Canucks offense is arguably stronger, their defense is the deepest in the league and their goaltending is just as good as Nashville's if not better if Lungo's finally over his issues. The Preds took care of the Ducks with hard work, but they couldn't handle Perry, Selanne, etc. The same will happen with Vancouver, only difference, they won't score any goals.

Greg Duley's picture

I think the Preds can really push the Canucks this series, if Peks is back to being Peks he is better than Lou. That is what i think will be the difference maker in this series as both goalies have potential to steal quite a few games.
But a sweep? i don't think that will happen as a lot of the reasons why the Preds could score during the year was due to injuries, but they are getting healthy.

George Prax's picture

Our consensus for the Wings and Coyotes was 7 games but it was a sweep. Why isn't it fathomable that it could happen in this series? I'm not trying to say the Preds aren't good, but the Canucks outclass them in every department. I think it's as simple as that. Preds took advantage of a weak D and tending on Anaheim, Anaheim's stronger offense abused them. The only weakness the Canucks have is mental.

Call it a gut feeling. No disrespect to your team Tongue

Glen Miller's picture

Guess I was late. I, like many here, see Canucks in 6.

Jason Pietroniro's picture

Doesn't help I hate almost every player on the Canucks. Especially LUUUUUUUUUUU.

George Prax's picture

Isn't WOP on WOP hatred a crime for you guys or something? Tongue