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Series at a glance: Phoenix-Nashville playoff preview

Apr 25, 2012, 1:59 PM EDT

Coyotes Predators

Schedule

All times Eastern; *if necessary

Game 1: Friday, April 27 at Phoenix, 9 p.m. (NBCSN, TSN)
Game 2: Sunday, April 29 at Phoenix, 8 p.m. (NBCSN, TSN)
Game 3: Wednesday, May 2 at Nashville, 9 p.m. (CNBC, TSN)
Game 4: Friday, May 4 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m (NBCSN, TSN)
Game 5: *Monday, May 7 at Phoenix, TBD
Game 6: *Wednesday, May 9 at Nashville, TBD
Game 7: *Friday, May 11 at Phoenix, TBD

Three storylines to follow

1. The goaltending. Much like St. Louis-Los Angeles, this series will focus heavily on the men between the pipes. Vezina nominee Pekka Rinne was outstanding for Nashville in the opening round, stopping 151 of Detroit’s 160 shots on goal — good for a .944 save percentage. Phoenix’s Mike Smith was equally outstanding against Chicago, finishing with a .950 save percentage and 1.81 GAA.

2. Uncharted waters. This will be Nashville’s second-ever trip beyond the opening playoff round, the first coming last year. Phoenix, meanwhile, has never made it past the first round since moving from Winnipeg in 1996.

3. Balanced scoring. Rather than rely on a few prolific scorers, both teams lean on a series of players to put pucks in the net (Phoenix had nine players score 11 goals or more this season, Nashville had 10. ) This approach served both well in the opening round as two unlikely scorers emerged: Gabriel Bourque led Nashville with three goals in five games while Antonie Vermette and Gilbert Brule combined to score six in six — this after the pair notched eight goals total during the regular season.

Records (reg. season)

No. 3 Phoenix: 42-27-13, 97 points (1st in Pacific Division) | No. 4 Nashville: 48-26-8, 104 points (2nd in Central Division)

Leading playoff scorers

Phoenix: Antoine Vermette (4G-1A-5PTS), Keith Yandle (0G-5A-5PTS) | Nashville: Alexander Radulov (1G-4A-5PTS)

Starting goalies

Phoenix: Mike Smith (4-2, 1.81 GAA) | Nashville: Pekka Rinne (4-1, 1.81 GAA)

Head-to-head

Season series tied 2-2

Oct 13: Phoenix 5, at Nashville 2
Nov. 3: Nashville 3, at Phoenix 0
Dec. 6: Phoenix 3, at Nashville 2
Mar. 12: Nashville 5, at Phoenix 4, SO

Playoff history

First meeting

2012 playoffs

Phoenix: Def. Chicago 4-2 (WC quarters) | Nashville: Def. Detroit 4-1 (WC quarters)

2011 playoffs

Phoenix: Lost to Detroit 4-0 (WC quarters) | Nashville: Def. Anaheim 4-2 (WC quarters); lost to Vancouver 4-2 (WC semis)

Stanley Cups

Phoenix: None | Nashville: None

Injuries

Phoenix: Michal Rozsival (face), Raffi Torres (suspension), Kurt Sauer (concussion) | Nashville: Hal Gill (lower body) |

Poll

  1. lesleyvissersfacelift - Apr 25, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    “Phoenix had gone to the playoffs seven times…and had been bounced in Round 1 seven times”. Classic definition of never making it past the first round. Thanks, Mike.

    • Mike Halford - Apr 25, 2012 at 2:35 PM

      Haha, yeah, I re-read and thought “that line is from the Department of Redundancy Department.” Since fixed.

  2. thehighcountrybear - Apr 25, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, snorkl gurk, zzzzzzzzz

    • saintez - Apr 26, 2012 at 2:42 PM

      snoring means?….. YOUR team is out? Watch much hockey? An appreciation for defense and goaltending (which generally helps your chances at a Cup….)

      Snore all you want and don’t watch. Nobody in Nashville or Phoenix cares if you catnap. We are still playing while your team isn’t.

  3. vshehane - Apr 25, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    highcountrydud

  4. sunking1 - Apr 25, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Nashville in 6.
    I have much more faith in Rinne keeping up his stellar level of play than in Smith doing so.

  5. theblakfox - Apr 25, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    its looking like a real shootout between these offensive powerhouses……

  6. dallasstars9 - Apr 25, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Isn’t this every Canadians dream playoff match-up? None-the-less, it should be a good series with low scoring.

  7. Chris Ross - Apr 25, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    These kinds of series are the becoming all too normal in the NHL this year and I don’t think that’s going to be good for NBC’s ratings. It’s going to be a boring second and third round in the Western Conference and hopefully this isn’t a trend in the NHL. It’s going to be interesting to see how this develops over the next couple of years and what the NHL wants to do about this, if anything.

    http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/defence-first-ratings-last/

    • dallasstars9 - Apr 25, 2012 at 4:53 PM

      Nice of you to plug your own content, but I don’t agree with you one bit. Should we just put teams like Detroit and Pittsburgh in the Finals because they play an entertaining brand of hockey? You’re missing the point as to why the Stanley Cup Playoffs are better than any other playoffs in sports! More so in the NHL than any other sport do teams have a chance, as long as they make the playoffs. If anything, this year has proven that “entertaining brand of hockey” doesn’t win championships, defense wins championships! And that goes for any sport, not just hockey.

      • saintez - Apr 26, 2012 at 2:47 PM

        And to hop on your point dallasstars9, these teams play best of 7. It isn’t like the NCAA where it’s a one game fluke. Clearly if Detroit, Chicago, Vancouver, Boston, and Pittsburgh were better this year they would have WON their 7 game series. I appreciate defense and great goaltending. That’s just me but clearly the NHL cannot be happy without their big names. Too bad….

  8. proudliberal85392 - Apr 25, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    Expect a great goaltending clinic. Should be interesting.

  9. letsgoyotessince96 - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    I assume this series will be as physical a series as you will see in this years playoffs.

    I believe it will be a closer series than the last once for the coyotes, and will go 7… Hopefully with the coyotes prevailing.

    Lets Go Yotes!!!! Good luck to Nashville, and I hope Fischer brings Carrie to Glendale! :-)

  10. thehighcountrybear - Apr 25, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    Defense may win tournaments, but teams like Canucks and Wings fill arenas, pubs, restaurants and bars season long and in the playoffs. I saw an article stating the entertainment industry in Vancouver suffers a two million dollar a game loss to revenues when Canucks bow-out early. The likelihood of a Coyote v. Predator series bringing those fans back to the pubs and restaurants is highly remote. Defensive hockey may succeed on the ice, but it will kill television ratings outside of Nashville and Phoenix, book it; look for NBC to keep those games under a regional blanket? Fortunately, a Blues v. Kings tilt may fill the vacuum, putting cricket, lawn bowling and sailing back a week or two yet…

    • saintez - Apr 26, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      Who gives a crap if the Preds/Coyotes series fills bars in Vancouver…. Really? Go watch soccer or junior hockey.

  11. eringler22 - Apr 27, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    It’s B.S. these local games aren’t on regular programing stations here in AZ, but they put the Capitals and Rangers game local channels. This makes no sense!!!

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