Preds Playoff Hits From The Crease 4-11-16
If you went to bed early Saturday night, it sure looked as though the Preds were heading for a playoff series vs the Kings. LA was up 3-0 vs the lowly Winnipeg Jets with the chance to clinch the Pacific Division a mere 33 minutes away. Certain writers (ahem) began posting things like Jonathan Quick’s career numbers vs the Preds. In an hour’s time, the Kings blew the most dangerous lead in hockey and eventually fell 4-3 in a shootout.
Meanwhile, Anaheim was traveling from Denver to DC for a snowed out make-up game vs the Capitals who had nothing to play for. A 2-0 victory for the Ducks sealed the division and a first round match-up with the Nashville Predators.
We’re all familiar that these teams met in the postseason back in 2011. It was a time of many firsts for the franchise. Their first ever game 5 win, first playoff OT victory, and of course the first time advancing out of the opening round. Even though it’s five years later, the structure of both teams is very similar this time around.
In 2011, the Ducks had a top-heavy attack that relied almost exclusively on their top two lines, along with a potent power play to mask questionable defense and goaltending. This season, much of that holds true. Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu aren’t around anymore, but they still depend on Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf to carry the load.
On the surface, you’d think it would be silly to question them defensively or in net considering they gave up the fewest goals in the NHL for the first time in franchise history. But as a whole, this team is banged up and I’m not even sure Bruce Boudreau knows who his starting netminder will be. Frederik Andersen earned a shutout Sunday in his first game back from injury, but that was also vs a Caps team with nothing on the line. John Gibson has played well in his absence, however, both of them have shown tendencies to give up goals in bunches and neither have proven to be clutch in the playoffs.
Three straight years the Ducks have been eliminated in a game 7 at home. Even worse perhaps, they led all of those series 3-2, something that will weigh heavily on their minds should they get to that point again.
Perhaps the most hated man amongst Preds fans when it comes to playoff hockey history is Ryan Kesler. He torched Nashville back in 2011 while with Vancouver and had some dramatics that drew questionable penalties which proved costly for the Preds. He’s not the same player, but he’s sure to be a factor and draw the ire of many in Smashville.
The series will begin Friday at 930 from the Honda Center with game 2 on Sunday at the same time. Nashville will host game 3 next Tuesday at 830, and game 4 next Thursday at 730.