The Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks finally get their series started tonight in Anaheim. Nashville is widely considered an underdog in the series, so getting at least one win on the road will be extremely important. Here are your Keys to Watch for in game one.
Keys to Watch
Rinne Must Be Vintage Rinne
Evaluating the play of Pekka Rinne this season has been a roller coaster. When Rinne is playing well, the Nashville Predators are one of the best teams in the NHL. A big stop from Rinne seems give the organization a bump in adrenaline, yet when he lets in an easy goal, the team looses its energy. On the season, Rinne finished with a record of 34-21-10, .908 save percentage, and 2.46 goals-against average. The Predators need Rinne to play at a Vezina-caliber level in order for wins to come against the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim is able to score multiple goals in a consecutive manner. Be ensured, if Rinne plays well, the Predators have a good chance of moving on to the second round. If he struggles, the team will follow.
Reasons for the Trade
When the Nashville Predators traded for Ryan Johansen, this scenario was the reason. Traditionally, the Preds have needed a first-line center that can score, dish, and win face-offs during the playoffs. Now is the time to see if this trade will payoff for Nashville. Johansen has played well for the Predators since his acquisition. On the season, Johansen amassed 14 goals, 46 assists for 60 points. No national pundits are predicting the Predators to come out of this series on top. The Anaheim Ducks are predicted, by most, to be one of the final two teams in the Western Conference, and quite possibly be the representative for the conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Predators need Johansen to come up big in the playoffs.
The Importance of Weber/Josi
With the upfront talent of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler, the Nashville Predators will need Roman Josi and Shea Weber to be the best version of themselves in this series. The best three Anaheim offensive players have put up 67 goals against the opposing defenses of the NHL, and play a big, physical style. The Predators are needing Weber and Josi to shut down those top lines of the Ducks and be the stopping force of all-world talent that they have been for a majority of the season.
Game One of this series will begin tonight with a 9:30 pm puck drop, with pregame beginning at 9:00 pm. Fox Sports-Tennessee will have all of the coverage in the Nashville viewing area or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Those outside of Nashville will be able to catch the game on NBCSN. Stay up late tonight with the Nashville Predators!