By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators visit the Anaheim Ducks tonight in game one of the Western Conference Quarter-Finals. The Predators just narrowly missed out on home ice advantage when they lost last Saturday, 2-0, against the Blues to end out the regular season.
Anaheim’s top line consists of Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, and Ryan Getzlaf. Combined the three have 103 goals and 142 assists.
Predators defenseman Cody Franson says the key to playing against Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan is to play a physical game. “They are probably the best line in the League. When you are playing against guys of that calibre, that size and that skill set, you want to play physical against them and take away their time and space. You know, make it tough on them,” he said.
Franson’s defense partner, Shane O’Brien, agrees. “They are three great players. They have a Stanley Cup rings. They are built for playoff hockey, they are big and strong,” O’Brien said, adding, “You can frustrate them. You can get under their skin. We are going to have to do that.”
This will be O’Brien’s first playoff series as a member of the Nashville Predators. O’Brien, who started his career with the Ducks, said that staying out of the penalty box will be huge for Nashville. “They came in here the other day with their power play and they were zipping around pretty good. They have a lot of skill,” he said.
O’Brien hopes the officials won’t be calling a tight game tonight. “Hopefully the referees let the boys play a little bit, it’s playoff time. But if they don’t we will have to find a way to kill them off. At the same time, we need our power play to be pretty good as well,” he said.
The Honda Center is a building that has not been kind to Nashville, with the Predators having one there only six times in over 20 games.
While the challenge of winning on the road during the playoffs is never easy, it is particularly a problem for the Predators who have one road victory in their first previous five playoff series.
Franson says the Predators need to work on taking home-ice advantage away from the Ducks. “When you don’t have home ice you want to go in and try to steal one. If you can get the first one, you want to get greedy and trey to get the second one. You don’t want to come home empty handed. If you can steal one in the other team’s building, it gives you the upper hand for a little while.”
Winning on the road won’t be easy, and while all the focus has been on the top line in Anaheim, the second line of Teemu Selanne, Jason Blake and Saku Koivu accounted for 6 of Anaheim’s 11 goals against Nashville during the regular season series.
Game time is 9:30 CT. Game two is on Friday night, also in Anaheim.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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