Ducks eager for rematch with Rinne's Predators in West final

Rosalie Stanley
May 14, 2017

They were asked about that challenge on Saturday before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final in Pittsburgh. The Predators will offer a stiffer challenge to the Ducks in the faceoff circle as they've won 52.7 percent of their draws to sit second among the eight teams that reached the second round.

The Ducks begin their final series to play for the Stanley Cup when they host the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the best-of 7 Western Conference finals at Honda Center on Friday night. Nashville is the last place, where a hockey die-hard would associate Stanley Cup and hockey in the same breath. Don't sweat it. Our NHL betting cheat sheet will get you up to speed on everything you need to know to body check your bookie. Despite increasing their goal average from 2.68 in the regular season to 3.18 in the playoffs, Anaheim is going to find it hard to score against the Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne.

Regrouping his team after a listless Game 6 loss, Mike Sullivan had his team on the ice the next morning and it paid off with a second straight trip to the Eastern Conference Final.

In the rematch, the Ducks hope to show the Predators what they learned last spring. "We've got to make good decisions". "One thing that we've stated is that the will that has been demonstrated by the penalty killing ... has exceeded our power play's will". The only goalie with slightly better stats is the Calgary Flames backup, Chad Johnson, who played one game.

Rinne and the Predators also beat the Ducks in 2011 for the first playoff series victory in franchise history. Previous year during the playoffs, they faced the Predators in the first round and were eliminated largely thanks to Rinne. At times, Anaheim's players looked like they were skating in slush.

Nashville Predators' Filip Forsberg, center, celebrates his goal against the Anaheim Ducks with teammates Matt Irwin, right, and Viktor Arvidsson during the first period of Game 1 in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conferen.

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The Penguins were one of the NHL's best possession teams a year ago and continued that dominance through the postseason. In front of Rinne, the Nashville defense has been great. Plus, the Predators' group of defensemen, led by Roman Josi (four goals, four assists) and P.K. Subban (one goal, six assists) is the deepest and most unsafe offensively among the NHL's final four. It desperately needs to improve if the Ducks want to see the Stanley Cup Final. The Oilers had watched a 3-0 lead vanish in three minutes in Game 5 before losing in double overtime only to come back and completely dominate the Ducks in a 7-1 win in Game 6.

- Bob Verdi gives us the scoop on Blackhawks prospect Alex DeBrincat. I thought that we created a lot, and eventually we were going to get one by him.

While Rinne appears to be at the peak of his skills again, his counterpart still has something to prove.

Kesler and linemates Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano did a stellar defensive job against Connor McDavid in the second round. Up front, the Preds finally have a truly unsafe first line with Ryan Johansen between Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson. "Our (defensemen) are a huge part of our offense, too".

After the Nashville Predators ousted the St. Louis Blues and the Ottawa Senators dispatched the New York Rangers, both in six games, the other two conference semifinal series were left to be decided Wednesday.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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