Preds, Canucks meet for first time in playoffs
Wednesday, 04.27.2011 / 8:52 PM
NHL.comPREDATORS at CANUCKS
: Vancouver and Nashville split four games during the regular season with each winning one at home. The Predators won at Rogers Arena, 3-0, on March 3. The Canucks won the final meeting of the season in Nashville, 3-1, on March 29. Vancouver outshot Nashville, 132-99, but the Predators outscored the Canucks, 8-6.
: CBC (HD), VERSUS (HD), RDS (HD)
-- While the Predators edged out Anaheim in six games, the Canucks needed overtime in Game 7 to finally knock off the Chicago Blackhawks. Nashville has been waiting since Sunday while Vancouver has just one day to prepare for round two.
A pair of defensemen will be facing their former teams. Canucks blue-liner Dan Hamhuis
spent six years with the Predators while Nashville's Shane O'Brien spent two seasons in Vancouver.
-- They're in the second round for the first time in franchise history and they got here thanks to a six-game series win over the Ducks. The Predators got here by way of offense instead of defense, which was their trademark all season. They gave up 3.33 goals per game against the Ducks, a full goal more than they did in the regular season, but they won the series because they 3.67 goals per game, which was more than a full goal more than they scored in the regular season. Their power play was seven percent better in the first round than it was in the regular season.
Nashville got some good news Tuesday when Martin Erat practiced with the team for the first time since suffering an upper body injury in Game 4 against Anaheim. Erat tied for the team lead with 50 points during the regular season and had a goal and 2 assists against the Ducks before he was forced out of the lineup. He led Nashville with 4 points in four games against Vancouver in the regular season.
"He's in the go position right now," Predators coach Barry Trotz told The Tennessean. "Obviously he's one of our best players. He gives us more flexibility in what we're able to do and makes us a stronger team. … Getting players back is huge. It makes you a deeper team. He's a big part of it. Hopefully we're stronger by his presence."
It took them until overtime of Game 7 to finally extinguish the Chicago Blackhawks, but the Canucks did on Alex Burrow's winner 5:22 into the extra session Tuesday night. They won the President's Trophy with 117 points in the regular season and barely made it to the second round, but the Canucks believe they are going to be better off for it.
"It's a huge confidence booster for ourselves going through adversity like we did," defenseman Dan Hamhuis
said. "I think we learned a lot about what it takes to be successful."
Vancouver was very good in Games 6 and 7. It dominated the play at times in both games only to give up untimely goals, including the OT-winner to Ben Smith in Game 6. Roberto Luongo
handled the pressure heaped on him like a professional with a strong 31-save effort in Game 7, giving the Canucks confidence in their franchise goalie going forward.
The issue for the Canucks now is not having a mental hangover or a sense of accomplishment. They know it was only one round, and while it was emotional, it was only the start of what they hope is something special.
-- Burrows scored both of Vancouver's goals in Game 7 and had a goal and two assists in Game 6 after recording just one point through the first five games against Chicago. Predators forward Jordin Tootoo had 4 assists over the final two games against Anaheim and he finished the series with 5 points. Nick Spaling scored two goals in Nashville's 4-2 clinching win over Anaheim on Sunday.
-- Canucks defenseman Sami Salo
is day to day with a leg injury. Erat is expected to play for the Predators after missing Games 5 and 6 against Anaheim.
-- Two of the three Vezina Trophy finalists will duel in this series with Luongo and Pekka in opposite nets. Luongo had a 1.77 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in four games against the Predators this season while Rinne was better against the Canucks with a 1.26 GAA and .962 save percentage. ... Burrows had 3 goals against Nashville during the regular season. Mike Fisher had 2 goals in three games with Nashville against Vancouver. ... Vancouver's power play was 1-for-16 in the season series against Nashville, but the Predators were 0-for-14 in those same games against the Canucks.
-- "You look at Chicago, they have such a skilled forward group. Nashville is a different kind of group. They have a pretty even four lines and a good defense so it's going to be a different matchup. But, I think if we play the way we did five out of the seven games against Chicago we'll do fine." -- Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin as told to NHL.com