Nashville Predators: Predators Centers vs The Best of the West

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

Anaheim Ducks

Ryan Getzlaf: 15 goals, 58 assists, 50.1 FF%, 1.0 CF% rel
Ryan Kesler: 22 goals, 36 assists, 51.9 FF%, 2.0 CF% rel
Rickard Rakell: 33 goals, 18 assists, 52.0 FF%, 3.3 CF% rel
Antoine Vermette: 9 goals, 19 assists, 48.8 FF%, -0.8 CF% rel

Anaheim has become consistent playoff opposition for Nashville. Though the Predators have defeated the Ducks in each postseason series they’ve met, it’s been a dogfight every time. That dogfight generally ramps up at the center position. Ryan Kesler spent the entire Western Conference Final with his stick up Ryan Johansen’s pads. The Nashville Predators need to win these battles in order to succeed. Johansen is superior to the Ducks’ centers, but Anaheim will win every other battle. Rakell is usually on a wing but will be playing center at the start of 2017-18 due to a Kesler injury. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him remain there once Kesler returns.

The Ducks haven’t made the most of this advantage yet.