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One of the keys for the Nashville Predators coming into the first round was to keep penalties to a minimum and not give Anaheim’s potent man advantage much ice-time. Through the first two games of the series, the Preds can’t be pleased with their discipline as the series shifts to the Music City.
The Ducks have had 10 power play opportunities thus far (five in each game), converting on three, then another just as a penalty expired. So, essentially, they have scored four of their six total goals with a man advantage.
“They can make plays when you give them chances to,” Predators defenseman Cody Franson said before the series. “It’s definitely not going to help us going into the box.”
Franson and the rest of the blueline have seen first-hand just how dangerous Anaheim’s power play is. Of the three tallies in the series, Teemu Selanne scored twice and Corey Perry once. Ryan Getzlaf’s goal in Game 2 occurred just six seconds after a penalty expired, which was essentially done with the man advantage.
In the regular season, the Ducks tied for second in the league on the power play with a 23.5 percent conversion rate. The unit is extra dangerous with so many skilled players. Getzlaf, Perry and Bobby Ryan are all big, fast and strong on the puck, and have great chemistry to boot. Add a future Hall of Famer in Teemu Selanne to the mix, along with the underrated Lubomir Visnovsky on the point, and this is one scary group.
“They have lots of skill,” Shane O’Brien said prior to Game 1. “Hopefully the referees let us play a little bit; but if they don’t, we’re going to have to find a way to kill them off.”
So far, the Predators have had a tough time staying out of the sin-bin and killing off the penalties once they commit them. Twice they have given the Ducks a five-on-three opportunity, and twice they have taken advantage. Most of the 10 power plays have come from stick-infraction penalties (which can be preventable) from the Preds, who took the second-least amount of penalties in the NHL this season.
When both clubs are at five-on-five, the Predators are the better team, sporting a 4-1 advantage in the first two games. At even strength in the regular season, Nashville was ranked 6th in five-on-five goals-for and -against ratio, while Anaheim finished 21st (the worst of all 16 playoff teams).
Nashville knows that if they wish to get past the opening round for the first time in franchise history, they must stay away from taking penalties and putting Anaheim’s dangerous power play unit on the ice.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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