ANAHEIM, Calif. — With Patrick Eaves injured and Corey Perry continuing to be a shell of his former goal-scoring self, someone not named Ryan Getzlaf would have to start scoring if the Anaheim Ducks had any chance at beating the Nashville Predators.
Sure veterans Sami Vatanen and Jakob Silfverberg chipped in a goal each, but it was two of the youngest Ducks who’d have the biggest impact in Anaheim’s Game 2 victory.
As seems to be the norm now, the Ducks don’t start playing hockey until at least 15 minutes have past in the first period. The Predators were leading 2-0 when Ondrej Kase, one of three 21-year-old Anaheim players in the lineup, drew a tripping penalty on Matt Irwin.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — They may not admit it, but the Anaheim Ducks are tired. It showed in the first period of the Western Conference Final against the Nashville Predators.
“We weren’t ready to start the game,” said defenseman Hampus Lindholm after the Ducks overtime loss. “We lost the game in the first period. They were on us the whole period. We didn’t really get to breathe.”
Over the past 15 days, the Ducks have played seven hockey games; in addition to trekking back and forth between Southern California and Edmonton a couple times. Dead legs aren’t unexpected, but they’re coming at the worst time of the year.
Earlier today we gave you the breakdown of the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators and predicted who will win. It’s time to look at five big questions facing the two teams in the Western Conference Final.
1– Who wins the battle of Ryan versus the Ryans?
The Nashville Predators brought in Ryan Johansen for situations just like the one they’re about to face. The Anaheim Ducks have a two-headed snarling, half-bald monster at center with Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf. A duo Johansen became acquainted with last post-season.
In the three meetings between the two during the regular season, match-intensive coach Randy Carlyle opted to roll out the Kesler line whenever Johansen hit the ice. Since Kesler is the pre-eminent shut-down center for Anaheim, it’s not a stretch to assume Carlyle will put Kesler on the ice against Johansen whenever possible.
For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators are headed to the Western Conference Finals.
In Game 6 of the series, the Predators defeated the Blues, 3-1. And the home crowd, as the kids say, was ‘lit.’
Kevin Fiala, who broke his leg in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues, was on hand to whip the Nashville crowd into a frenzy following the anthem by multi-Grammy award winning group, Lady Antebellum.
The Preds didn’t appear to get the memo that the game had started for real.
Leave it to the uber creative fans in Nashville and a pregame sign to turn a really stupid comment by a talking head on TV into a way to support their player.
During pregame warmups in Nashville, the Predators fan above held the sign against the glass for Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban and the rest of his teammates to see.
The sign is in reference to an
asinine comment made on Friday about Subban by NBC hockey “analyst” Mike Milbury.
As many players on any given team are want to do, Subban was shaking his groove thang during warmups. To Milbury, that is inexcusable. He went on to call Subban a ‘clown.’ As the topic continued, both Milbury and panelist Keith Jones agreed Subban’s behavior was ‘a concern’ for the Predators.
To which the collective hockey universe rolled their eyes backwards so hard everyone fell over.
Frankly, outside of washed up crusty old NHL’ers who haven’t played in twenty years, Subban’s personality is refreshing. As that sign shows, Predators fans have embraced Subban and welcome his non-cookie cutter mold.
Milbury’s comments was met with anger from fans, but at the same time, increasing frustration.
As luck would have it, teams in the Central Division find themselves matching up against each other in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Let’s tackle the most compelling narrative first.
It’s Mike Yeo’s St. Louis Blues against Mike Yeo’s former team the Minnesota Wild.
“I’m sure it’s going to turn into quite a story, said Yeo in his post-game press conference on Saturday. “It’s funny, in sports these types of stories have a way of coming around.”
About a 14 months ago, Yeo was axed by the Wild. He was later hired as an assistant
to the regional manager under Ken Hitchcock in St. Louis before taking over for Hitch when he was given the boot.
Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson fell victim to invisible snipers in Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Blues.
Joel Edmundson had just been whistled for tripping Filip Forsberg, who is seen in the picture below laying on his tummy. During the stoppage, Arvidsson crosses paths with David Perron. Perron gives Arvidsson a little slap on the ribs.
It’s at that moment the invisible snipers attack.
The New Jersey Devils shipped forward P.A. Parenteau to the Nashville Predators at the trade deadline for a sixth round pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft.
Calling Parenteau a ‘journeyman’ is an understatement. With the trade, he will be suiting up for his sixth different team since the 2013-14 season.
The 33-year-old forward started this season as a member of the New York Islanders, signing a one-year, $1.25-million deal after a career rebirth of sorts in Toronto a season prior. Rejoining the Islanders was an experiment to see if he could rekindle the offensive firepower he once had scoring a career high 67 points in the 2011-12 season.
Parenteau didn’t even make it to opening night before he was put on waivers by the Isles.
The New Jersey Devils claimed him and that’s where he’s been until today. In 59 games with the Devils, Parenteau has 13 goals and 14 assists; four of his goals have come on the power play.
To the Milbury Scale!
If Ryan Johansen is ever looking to make some scratch on the side being a pool shark might be his best bet.
The Nashville Predators forward put the proverbial nail in the coffin of the Minnesota Wild with a trick-shot-esque empty netter.
Defenseman Ryan Ellis swipes away a loose puck in the neutral zone and back to Johansen – who is about five feet behind the blueline. The forward chips the puck high up in the air, like he’s going for an alley-oop, but the arc is so perfect it coasts into the net.
(Let’s give a little love to his time in Columbus for allowing him to work on his chip game while on the golf course… sorry.)
The point was the third of the evening for Johansen, and iced the game against the Minnesota Wild, 4-2.
The Nashville Predators get a big boost tonight as superstar defenseman (and fashionista, clearly) P.K. Subban is activated off of IR and will be in the lineup against the Edmonton OIlers.
Subban missed 16 games all together with an upper-body injury. Adam Vingan of The Tennessean notes the injury is thought to be a herniated disc.
After two full practices with the team, GM David Poile thought Subban would make his debut around Jan. 24 when the team returned home. Clearly he’s ahead of schedule.
“It’s just another step in the right direction,” Subban said to The Tennessean. “Every day that went by, I was just itching at the opportunity to get back in there and happy to be able to do that tonight.”