The Nashville Predators have made it to the Western Conference Final for the first time in the history of the franchise. This is a great accomplishment for this team, the city of Nashville, and the rabid fans that are the Loyal Legion. This can not be the be all, end all of this impressive run. The team must press forward. The Anaheim Ducks are coming off of a very tough series against an offensively-talented Edmonton Oilers squad. Yes, Nashville has experienced playoff success against Anaheim, but this is a much different opponent from last season. The Predators can not be content with what they have reached so far. The goal of every franchise, at the beginning of each season, is to win the Stanley Cup for the city and their fans. The Predators need to come out of the gate tonight and get a victory in Game One.
The Anaheim Ducks have experienced success this post-season because of the play of their top-tier players. Ryan Getzlaf has been a significant threat to the opposition with eight goals and seven assists through 11 games during the first two rounds. Getzlaf has excelled in the face-off circle winning 54.64% of his draws. Without Getzlaf, the Ducks would have been eliminated in Round Two without his stellar play. Yet, Getzlaf isn’t the only one to worry about for Anaheim. Jakob Silfverberg (7 g, 6 a) and Rickard Rakell (6 g, 4 a) have been offensive threats for the Ducks, including two game-winning goals from Silfverburg and a game-tying goal from Rakell. Then, there is the lovable Corey Perry. Perry only has two goals during the post-season but is tied for the team lead in assists with seven. There are many threats that Anaheim has and they are playing well, offensively. The Predators defense will have to find a way to slow down their offense and give Pekka Rinne the opportunity to see the puck.
The goaltending for the Anaheim Ducks has been sporadic for John Gibson. At times, he has played extremely well (see Game Seven against Edmonton). Gibson has played in 11 games this post-season, 601 total minutes, 2.80 goals-against average, .908 save percentage, and has given up 28 goals. At times, the defense in front of him has not been great, but at other times, he has not played well. Gibson has two games this post-season where he has given up only one goal with no shutouts. Six of the eleven appearances for the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native has shown him to give up three or more goals, including three goals on six shots in Game Six against Edmonton. The Predators will have a prime opportunity to score against a goaltender that has shown flashes of great play, and not so great at other times.
The Western Conference Finals is finally here and the Predators look to steal Game One at the Honda Center in Anaheim. The game will be televised on NBCSN or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 8:00 pm!