Key Matchup-

Ryan Getzlaf and Shea Weber will face each other in this matchup. The two played together on Team Canada’s 2016 World Cup team. Weber may be considered an elite defenseman, but he is one of the league’s worst shot suppressors. He can produce offensively though. Getzlaf has well deserved elite status, and plays a solid game and when he is put on the same line as Corey Perry he is hard to stop.

Nashville Predators-

Winning Formula: 

One of the Predators greatest assets is the depth of its blueline. Together Shea Weber and Roman Josi are fantastic and Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis have continued to excel over the last season. Filip Forsberg has made a name for himself as the team’s sniper and is likely to continue to produce. Nashville is one of the league’s top possession teams and Mike Fisher to James Neal have a lot to do with that as they play a gritty offensive game.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  

Pekka Rinne has not been playing his strongest game posting one of the worst save percentages than any other goalie in the league holding a starting position. Rinne improved after the second half of the season, but still is not at the top of his game.

The first line as a whole doesn’t produce enough offense for the Predators and the team leans too heavily on young less experienced players like Austin Watson, Colton Sissons, Viktor Arvidsson, and Miikka Salomaki.

Anaheim Ducks –

Winning Formula:

Ryan Kesler adds experience, skill, and an advantage in the faceoff circle, and will be an asset during this playoff run especially if they progress to later series. When Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are put on the same line they are a dynamic duo and can easily manipulate play and produce offense. The Ducks have one of the most productive power plays in the league and some credit is due to the pair. David Perron and Rickard Rakell have played their part on the team adding offense and distracting opposing teams from Perry and Getzlaf. The Ducks play a heavy game and have a mobile blueline full of playmakers such as Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, and Hampus Lindholm.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less: 

Anaheim had a terrible start to the season, but fought their way to the playoffs. They are hoping that other players will distract from Getzlaf and Perry to allow them to be effective. In the past playoffs opposing teams have tried to neutralize the duo early on and it has been a strategy that has had an effect on knocking the team out. John Gibson and Frederik Andersen will need to minimize mistakes and step up to keep the Ducks alive.

Prediction: Ducks in 6

Follow us on Twitter @TristinHuntamer and @BandBHockey

 

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The Anaheim Ducks have earned their way to the Western Conference Final for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 while the Chicago Blackhawks are back in the 3rd Round for the fifth time in seven seasons. Both teams benefit from strong leadership by their captains, Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks and Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks, both captains center their respective team’s top-line, produce offensively and keep their teams motivated. Forward Corey Perry is leading the post season with 15 points while Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is second with 13. Both teams boast formidable bluelines and strong goaltending. Chicago won two of three games against Anaheim during the regular season.

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Chicago Blackhawks-

How they got to the Western Conference Final: The Blackhawks needed 10 games to make it this far, six games to defeat the Nashville Predators in the first round and a sweep of the Minnesota Wild in the second. Kane has a point in seven straight games and scored five goals in four games in the 2nd round. In the post season Toews has 11 points, left wing Patrick Sharp has nine points, and right wing Marian Hossa has eight points proving that this team can light the lamp. In the second period of Game 4 against the Wild Michal Rozsival sustained a broken ankle which has forced Chicago coach, Quenneville, to make changes to his defense including adding David Rundblad to the lineup for his playoff debut. Duncan Keith will get more ice time due to the defensive changes despite already averaging 30:37, but he has been great for the team tallying two goals and eight assists. Corey Crawford stepped up in the 2nd round after faltering in the crease in the 1st. He made 30 saves in 1-0, Game 3 shutout of the Wild, but backup Scott Darling is ready to play if Crawford loses his intensity and resolve. Chicago’s power play has climbed to a 20.0 percent success rate, second to the Ducks out of teams still remaining in these playoffs.

How they can get to the Stanley Cup Final: The penalty kill remains a problem for the Blackhawks, but they make up for that in speed, ability to move the puck, keep possession, and skill at finding the back of the net. The Blackhawks will need to utilize defensive ice time as much as possible since the defensemen will be racking up more minutes than normal and need to use their energy wisely. The Ducks are averaging 33.8 shots per game in the post season so Crawford will need to stay focused and stand on his head when needed, but he has shown that he can do just that. Kane, Toews, Hossa, Keith, Sharp, Seabrook and Brandon Saad will all need to continue producing offensively. This team has gotten plenty of rest since they swept the Wild and though that can hurt a team’s momentum if utilized well the Blackhawks can enter the Western Conference Final focused and well prepared.

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Anaheim Ducks-

How they got to the Western Conference Final: The Ducks needed nine games to pass the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames in the 1st and 2nd rounds. Getzlaf and Perry have combined for 27 points in nine games, four of which were power-play goals. Ryan Kesler has been immensely valuable on the forecheck. Matt Beleskey set a Ducks playoff record scoring in five straight games in the second round, while Jakob Silfverberg has three multipoint games, and Patrick Maroon has four goals. Anaheim’s defensemen have combined for 29 points in the playoffs. 2007 Stanley Cup team veteran, Francois Beauchemin, has six points in nine games, and passed Scott Niedermayer as the Ducks’ all-time playoff scoring leader among defensemen. Cam Fowler and Simon Despres are a combined plus-13 with four penalty minutes. Sami Vatanen leads Ducks defensemen with seven points. The Ducks are 9-for-29 on the power play, improving after being ranked 28th in the regular season. Beauchemin, Despres, Fowler, Getzlaf, Kesler, Silfverberg and Thompson have been fantastic on the PK all post-season. Frederik Andersen has a 1.96 goals-against average and a save percentage of .925 through nine games.

How they can get to the Stanley Cup Final: The Getzlaf, Perry, and Maroon line will need to continue to produce and control the puck challenging the Blackhawk defensemen. Getzlaf has been great on the faceoff and puck possession is key in playoff hockey. Expect Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano to play the way they did against the Jets when they played a big part in sweeping the series. This team is not great with faster teams so the Blackhawks will be a big hurdle for them. Defense will need to stay sharp and Kesler will need to provide heavily on the forecheck. Andersen needs to continue making big saves in the crease; he wasn’t heavily tested in the previous rounds and Chicago is a much better team when it comes to puck possession than those he’s faced so far in these playoffs; he will need to step up and shut them down.

Read our Eastern Conference Final preview.

View the conference finals schedule.

Follow  @TristinHuntamer and @BandBHockey on Twitter

 

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EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL MATCHUP
SERIES M – M1 vs. A2 TIME (ET) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Rangers NETWORKS
Saturday, May 16 1 p.m. Tampa Bay at NY Rangers NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Monday, May 18 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Wednesday, May 20 8 p.m. NY Rangers at Tampa Bay NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Friday, May 22 8 p.m. NY Rangers at Tampa Bay NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Sunday, May 24 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Tuesday, May 26 8 p.m. NY Rangers at Tampa Bay NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Friday, May 29 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL MATCHUP
SERIES N – P1 vs. C3 TIME (ET) Chicago Blackhawks vs. Anaheim Ducks NETWORKS
Sunday, May 17 3 p.m. Chicago at Anaheim NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Tuesday, May 19 9 p.m. Chicago at Anaheim NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Thursday, May 21 8 p.m. Anaheim at Chicago NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Saturday, May 23 8 p.m. Anaheim at Chicago NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
*Monday, May 25 9 p.m. Chicago at Anaheim NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Wednesday, May 27 8 p.m. Anaheim at Chicago NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Saturday, May 30 8 p.m. Chicago at Anaheim NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

* – if necessary TBD – To be determined

 

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Calgary Flames –

Learning from Round 1: Calgary needs to improve their PK. They killed 13 of 16 shorthanded opportunities in their series against the Canucks (81.2 percent), a nearly identical rate as the regular season when they finished 20th at 80.6 percent. They were fortunate that they were successful on their penalty kill in crucial moments of the series, but luck doesn’t get you very far in the playoffs. The Flames won their first game against the Canucks trailing 1-0 in the third period of Game 1 but scored twice in the third to win it, capped by defenseman Kris Russell’s goal with 29.6 seconds left. In Game 6, the Flames trailed 3-0 less than 10 minutes into the game and 4-3 entering the third period but scored four goals in the final 20 minutes to win it 7-4. Just because they can win late in the game doesn’t mean they should. They need to buckle down earlier to avoid the uncomfortable position of fighting for goals in the final period.

Winning Formula: They need to go into each game believing that they can win. The Ducks are intimidating as the top seed, but if the Flames play well in their own barn and steal the home-ice advantage from the Ducks the way they did with the Canucks in the first round they have a shot at moving on. They have been looking great on defense. The Flames were 13th in the NHL on the power play during the regular season, scored four of their 11 goals through the first five games with the man-advantage. Five of Calgary’s 18 goals came on the power play; they went 5-for-18 (27.8 percent) in the 1st round, and they will need to keep that up going against the Ducks.

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Anaheim Ducks –

Learning from Round 1: The Ducks were not challenged much offensively during the first round against the Jets. They cannot expect the same situation from the Flames. The Ducks became the first team in playoff history to win three games in a row when trailing after two periods, but as their playoff run continues the forwards need to find the back of the net earlier to provide a safety net.

Winning Formula: This series may be in the forwards hands as both teams have a tendency of earning their wins late in the game. Anaheim gave new life to its power play in the first round, scoring three goals in Games 1 and 2 after it was 1-for-23 in the final 11 regular-season games. They need to also take advantage of their ability to draw penalties. The Ducks got 11 power plays in the four games after it got two or fewer in six of its final nine regular-season games.

Goalie Matchup: The Duck’s Frederik Andersen improved since last year’s playoffs from 3.10 goals-against average and .899 save percentage to  2.20 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. Two of the nine goals he allowed came with Winnipeg on the power play. John Gibson didn’t play in the first round because of an upper-body injury; his status for the second round is unknown. Jason LaBarbera has been the backup for the position.  Andersen is likely the starter for the series based on performance and experience. Calgary has more offensive depth than Winnipeg, and Andersen likely will be tested more. It will be the furthest Andersen has gone in the postseason; as he was injured last year mid-playoffs. The Flames had Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo split time in the net for most of the regular season, but after Ramo sustained a lower-body injury on April 4th, Calgary went with Hiller as their No. 1 tendy for the playoffs. It worked out well for the Flames until Game 6, when Hiller allowed two goals on three shots and Ramo took over making 17 saves on 19 shots to earn the win in relief. Hiller, who spent his first seven NHL seasons with the Ducks before signing with the Flames as a free agent last summer, had a 1.84 goals-against average and .942 save percentage in the first five games against the Canucks. He has 32 games of playoff experience compared to Ramo’s two.

Follow @TristinHuntamer on Twitter.

Read about the Ducks and the Flames first round matchups.

Read recaps of the Ducks Round 1 series: Games: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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Tough night for Jets portends good things in 15-16

WINNIPEG – The Anaheim Ducks are the first team moving on in these playoffs as they came into a hostile environment the MTS Centre and took two games to sweep the Jets with a 5-2 win in Game 4.

The Jets took a big stride forward by becoming one of the hardest teams to play against as they have a no-quit attitude and will pound you into the boards with a relentless forecheck.

The Ducks were just a more experienced team and were also built to go deep into the playoffs. This was a very physical series although it was only four games there are a lot of sore banged up guys.

“We knew it was going to be a real battle,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I never expected it to be 4-0, quite frankly, in my wildest dreams.”

Every time the Jets would strike or get ahead in this series the Ducks would match with goals or big hits; momentum was always matched and that was a huge key. It was revealed that the Jets had at least eight guys playing with significant injuries throughout the series.

“We probably have eight significant injuries, four of those we brought into the series,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “We had a number of guys that couldn’t do parts of the games as well.

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“Anaheim was better than we were in this series,” Maurice added. “Those [first] three games were close. There’s luck in a game maybe in the series, but over a potential seven-game series, the best team almost always wins, and they were better than we were.”

Ondrej Pavelec was in goal for Winnipeg and stopped 30 of 34 shots.

“There’s a fine line between winning and losing in the playoffs,” Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. “They’re a team that went through those ups and downs last [season] and probably learned from that. So I think we take the experience we got this time, learn from it and next time we’re in this situation, we’ll handle it better.”

Frederik Anderson stopped 25 shots for Anaheim and also had to stay focused as the Jets fans broke out the ANDERSON .. ANDERSON chant throughout the game.

Jets got goals from Bryan Little and Mark Stuart.

Ducks goal scorers were Emerson Etem who scored what will be one of the top goals of these playoffs as he dangled around Jacob Trouba and beat Pavelec top corner on a nasty back hand. Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Kesler had a pair, Sami Vatanen added an empty netter to seal the deal for the Ducks.

“Good teams, they have to get scoring not just from their top line, but from all four lines, and we did tonight,” said Kesler, who had three goals and two assists in the series. “We’re going to need that the rest of the way.”

The Jets continued to be the more physical team again but just couldn’t find that extra goal to bury the Ducks in any game of the series including tonight.

“They just seemed to kind of have answers for everything we did,” Jets forward Blake Wheeler said. “It was kind of the same thing all series. It was like every time we gained an inch, they came back with two.”

One thing for certain these Winnipeg fans proved to be the loudest fans in the NHL as they have been waiting 19 years for playoff hockey. They stopped the music in the third as the fans chanted GO JETS GO!

Quite the atmosphere and surely the Jets will look forward to next year and taking another step forward. There will different faces for sure but one thing will remain and that’s the culture and identity they have given themselves and their city.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “We didn’t want this to end. We’ve got a really good thing going. The guys battled all [season] to get in, and we did some really good things. We just weren’t able to get over the hump, but I’m proud of how everybody played. We battled until the end.”

Follow me on Twitter @hrank94

Read about games 1, 2, and 3, and see how our pre-series analysis stacked up to how this series turned out.

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Anaheim rallies late, wins in OT

WINNIPEG – The fans in Winnipeg waited 19 yrs for the return of an NHL playoff game and finally got their wish as the Jets were back for Game Three and the crowd did not disappoint as the return of the white-outs something special to see as the loudest fans in the league did not disappoint.

The Ducks, who had a 2-0 lead in the series, had other ideas and sent 15016 fans home crying as they handed the Jets a 5-4 overtime loss to take a commanding three games to none lead in the series.

It was the same story as the first two games; the Jets had a lead going into the third and gave up a late goal.

“It’s hard to put a finger on it,” the Jets Bryan Little said. “If we knew what it was, we’d fix it. You’ve got to give them credit, they don’t stop. They go right to the end of the game. It almost gets in your head how good they are at it. They’ve done it to us three [games] in a row now. A couple bounces either way tonight and we could’ve had a different outcome.”

They have had six leads in the series but have nothing to show for it. This one will be tough to swallow as just before the Ducks scored the Jets had a couple of glorious scoring chances.

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Ondrej Pavelec stopped 26 out of 31 Anaheim shots.

Frederik Anderson who has never lost to the Jets stopped 31 out of 35 Jets shots.

Winnipeg got goals from Lee Stempniak, Tyler Myers, Blake Wheeler, Little all four got there first goals of the series.

Ducks got goals from Cam Fowler his 1st, Corey Perry his 3rd, Jakob Silfverberg his 2nd, Ryan Kesler his 1st.

Rickard Rakell scored the OT winner, his 1st of the playoffs

“We needed it tonight. A third-line guy scoring the winning goal, and you get Silfverberg, Cogliano and Kesler getting in, because I didn’t think the Getzlaf line was as good as they were in the first two games,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “If you don’t get that secondary scoring, you’re not going to win any games.”

The black and blue series as its been dubbed by the media continued its hard hitting ways as the two teams combined for 105 hits with the Jets having the edge 61 to 44. Both teams were dishing out punishing checks one after another. The Jets will look to last year’s champs as they were down 3-0 in the first round and battled back all the way to the Cup.

“You’ve got to make them win four games, so we’re sure not going to go down easy,” Wheeler said. “You’ve got to win four games. We have won four in a row before. The first one’s going to be the hardest one, apparently. Just lick our wounds tonight. It’s going to hurt, obviously. The sun’s going to rise tomorrow, and we’ve got to refocus for Game 4.”

One thing for sure the Jets have served notice as they could be up 3-0 right now and will try and get the franchise’s first playoff win on wed night in game 4 and send this series back to California.

“[It will be] the hardest-fought game yet,” Kesler said. “The fourth [win] is the hardest. As heartbreaking as that was for them to lose in overtime in that fashion, I think that both teams are going to regroup and forget about [this] one and play hard for the fourth one.”

Follow me on Twitter @hrank94

Read recaps of games 1 and 2 and read our analysis of this matchup.