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Key Matchups-

Brent Burns and Shea Weber will be expected to light the lamp for their respective teams. Burns was number one among defensemen scoring 27 goals this season. He can move the puck in the offensive zone and is aggressive on the forecheck. He put 353 shots on net making him second in that aspect to Alex Ovechkin. Weber was fourth for goals and finished the season with 20 goals; his third time doing so. Burns is the superior offensive player while Weber has impressive shot suppression numbers, and has already been chosen to play for Team Canada’s World Cup squad.

San Jose Sharks–

Coach Peter DeBoer prefers to roll four lines, keeping his forwards fresh. In Round 1 the top line dominated scoring seven of its 16 goals. All forwards averaged a minimum of 11 minutes of ice time per game except Tommy Wingels who is second among forwards with 11 shots on goal and averaged 9:49 per game. The Sharks’ Joes Pavelski and Joe Thornton made an impressive showing in the first round. Pavelski scored five goals in five games, with two coming on the power play and one standing as a game winner. Thornton had a goal and two assists, and was one of the most solid players on the ice. Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi, and Patrick Marleau, were an offensive powerhouse trio against the Kings. Joel Ward had four assists and made his presence known alone the walls. Center Chris Tierney and left wing Matt Nieto also made contributions.

Brent Burns has been a force to be reckoned with the past two seasons, and it’s going to be a battle for the Predators’ defense to keep him at bay while trying to hold off Pavelski and Thornton. Burns lead the Sharks with eight points in the first round. Paul Martin was Burns’ partner in Round 1and his adept play allowed for Burns to thrive. Marc-Edouard Vlasic made his contribution averaging 23:12 of ice time per game and leading the Sharks with 18 blocked shots.

The Sharks are a team of playmakers who proved how important puck possession and seizing scoring opportunities is during their matchup with the Kings and the past season. For every 60 minutes played at 5-on-5, the Sharks generated about 13 chances from the slot and allowed less than 10 against per 60 minutes. Against the Kings the Sharks were able to average 13 chances per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in the first round.

The Sharks goaltending has something to be desired. Martin Jones isn’t the caliber of goalie you hope to see in the playoffs. His .912 save percentage was right in the middle of the pack for goaltenders in the first round. He’ll need to be better against the Predators for the team to win the series, and if he is the Sharks could be back in the Western Conference final for the first time since 2011.

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Nashville Predators-

The Predators are a defense dominant team with Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm. In Round 1 Weber and Josi combined for two goals and eight points, playing nearly half of each game and played a crucial role in shutting down Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. In Round Two, they’ll be tasked with slowing down Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, and Brent Burns. Josi averaged 27:16 of ice time and 33.6 shifts per game. His average shift length was 48 seconds. Fourth-line center Paul Gaustad brought a physical presence in the first round. Gaustad has been proven effective in the faceoff circle; he won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs against the Ducks and had a 54.1 winning percentage in the defensive zone. Nashville finished the regular season tied for the most points in the NHL by defensemen.

Nashville’s penalty kill faced the league’s best power play in Round One and only allowed four power play goals against in 25 attempts. That made for the sixth-best penalty kill in Round 1 against the Ducks. Nashville’s penalty kill is going to be utilized against San Jose who drew the fifth-most power plays in the regular season and had the league’s third-ranked power play. Nashville’s power play struggled in the first round, going 1-for-26.

Nashville offensive production is lacking compared to San Jose’s. The Sharks could win with forward depth if the Preds forwards can’t get the puck to the back of the net, but there is hope for the offense with Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and James Neal, but it’ll be crucial that they are better than they were in Round 1.

Pekka Rinne had issues in the first five games. In Game 7 Rinne played a solidly and saved the Predators by making 36 saves, allowing one goal, on a power play. Rinne finished the series with 2.45 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

Prediction: Sharks in 6

Follow us on Twitter @TristinHuntamer and @BandBHockey

Read our analysis of the Predators and the Sharks Round 1 matchups to learn more about these teams.

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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Head-to-Head Season Stats
Stats
Predators
Blackhawks
Record

1-1-2

3-1-0

Goals

9

11

Shot Attempts

179

182

 

Season Stats
 
Predators
Blackhawks
Rank
Stats
Rank
Stats
Shot Attempts For/60

2

58.1 4

58.0

Shot Attempts Against/60

14

51.4 7

49.9

Shot Attempt %

8

53.1 4

53.7

Goals For/60

5

2.51 17

2.25

Goals Against/60

4

1.91 6

1.93

Goal %

1

56.9 8

53.8

Shooting %

8

8.1 28

6.8

Save %

4

93.1 2

93.5

Powerplay

25

16.2 20

17.6

Penalty Kill

18

80.8 10

83.4

 

Key Matchup-

Duncan Keith vs. Shea Weber: Two of Canada’s best defensemen are going head-to-head and they are evenly matched. Since Ryan Suter left Nashville, Weber’s numbers haven’t been as good as they were; though he still looks good on the ice. Weber has a higher relative goal rate meaning he may have some effect on the quality of chances, but Nashville generally controls the puck more when Weber is on the bench. He also allows almost six more shot attempts than Keith per hour.

Nashville Predators-

Winning Formula: Peter Laviolette transformed Nashville from a counterstrike team into an attacking team. The result was the Predators best goal production in four years. Rookie Filip Forsberg has the makings of a future superstar. Their offense is a team effort and doesn’t rely on one player to get things done. This new style of play has made Nashville a better possession team, giving them more opportunities, and keeping the other team from scoring chances. Goalie Pekka Rinne bounced back from his 2013-14 hip problems and has had a great year. Rinne’s 6’5” size, agility; unreal glove hand, puck handling abilities, skill at controlling the rebound, demeanor, and general ability to intimidate a shooter all plays a part in why he is phenomenal when he is healthy.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  Nashville’s first line is evolving and provides something closer to second-line production, especially factoring in how much they’ve regressed in the second half of the season. Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro averaged about a point per game in the first half of the season, but have since cooled. James Neal, although a skilled power forward, isn’t producing the way he used to for the Penguins. Their blueline is amazing, but the team relies on them to score too much and it takes away from what they are there to do. Rinne has been dealing with knee problems the past couple months, and he hasn’t shouldered a playoff workload since 2012. His second half numbers, while good, have slipped in the second half of the season.

Chicago Blackhawks-

Winning Formula: If experience counts then this team is golden as the majority of their 2013 Stanley Cup roster is intact. They have resolve and thrive under pressure. They are strong defensively. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook push play toward the other team’s net. Chicago has tremendous depth and scores consistently at even strength, and this team hits hard.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  Patrick Kane is expected to return for the first round a few weeks earlier than expected. He was out with a broken collarbone. If he is fully healed and not feeling the effects of his injury he will be a great asset to the Blackhawks as he is elite on all levels offensively. The power play has suffered in his absence too. Toews has been heavily leaned on to score and even with Kane set to return, there is no telling if he is healthy enough to help the team. Thoughout the season, goaltender Corey Crawford only had to be good, not great. He will have to be great to win in the playoffs.

Follow me @TristinHuntamer

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EASTERN CONFERENCE FIRST-ROUND MATCHUPS
SERIES A – A1 vs. W1 TIME (ET) Ottawa-Montreal NETWORKS
Wednesday, April 15 7 p.m. Ottawa at Montreal CBC, TVA Sports, NHL Network
Friday, April 17  7 p.m. Ottawa at Montreal CBC, TVA Sports, CNBC
Sunday, April 19 7 p.m. Montreal at Ottawa CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Wednesday, April 22 7 p.m. Montreal at Ottawa CBC, TVA Sports, USA
*Friday, April 24  TBD Ottawa at Montreal CBC
*Sunday, April 26  TBD Montreal at Ottawa CBC
*Tuesday, April 28  TBD Ottawa at Montreal CBC
SERIES B – A2 vs. A3 TIME (ET) Detroit-Tampa Bay NETWORKS
Thursday, April 16 7:30 p.m. Detroit at Tampa Bay CNBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 18 3 p.m. Detroit at Tampa Bay NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Tuesday, April 21 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Detroit NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Thursday, April 23 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Detroit NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Saturday, April 25 TBD Detroit at Tampa Bay TBD
*Monday, April 27 TBD Tampa Bay at Detroit TBD
*Wednesday, April 29 TBD Detroit at Tampa Bay TBD
SERIES C – M1 vs. W2 TIME (ET) Pittsburgh-NY Rangers NETWORKS
Thursday, April 16 7 p.m. Pittsburgh at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 18 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at NY Rangers NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Monday, April 20 7 p.m. NY Rangers at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Wednesday, April 22 7 p.m. NY Rangers at Pittsburgh NBCSN, SN 360, TVA Sports
*Friday, April 24 TBD Pittsburgh at NY Rangers TBD
*Sunday, April 26 TBD NY Rangers at Pittsburgh TBD
*Tuesday, April 28 TBD Pittsburgh at NY Rangers TBD
SERIES D – M2 vs. M3 TIME (ET) NY Islanders- Washington NETWORKS
Wednesday, April 15 7 p.m. NY Islanders at Washington USA, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Friday, April 17 7 p.m. NY Islanders at Washington NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sunday, April 19 Noon Washington at NY Islanders NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Tuesday, April 21 7:30 p.m. Washington at NY Islanders USA, SN 360, TVA Sports
*Thursday, April 23 TBD NY Islanders at Washington TBD
*Saturday, April 25 TBD Washington at NY Islanders TBD
*Monday, April 27 TBD NY Islanders at Washington TBD
WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST-ROUND MATCHUPS
SERIES E – C1 vs. W1 TIME (ET) Minnesota-St. Louis NETWORKS
Thursday, April 16 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at St. Louis NBCSN, SN 360, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 18 3 p.m. Minnesota at St. Louis NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Monday, April 20 8 p.m. St. Louis at Minnesota CNBC, SN1, TVA Sports
Wednesday, April 22 9:30 p.m. St. Louis at Minnesota NBCSN, SN 360, TVA Sports
*Friday, April 24 TBD Minnesota at St. Louis TBD
*Sunday, April 26 TBD St. Louis at Minnesota TBD
*Wednesday, April 29 TBD Minnesota at St. Louis TBD
SERIES F – C2 vs. C3 TIME (ET) Chicago-Nashville NETWORKS
Wednesday, April 15 8:30 p.m. Chicago at Nashville NBCSN, SN 360, TVA Sports
Friday, April 17 9:30 p.m. Chicago at Nashville NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sunday, April 19 3 p.m. Nashville at Chicago NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Tuesday, April 21 9:30 p.m. Nashville at Chicago NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Thursday, April 23 TBD Chicago at Nashville TBD
*Saturday, April 25 TBD Nashville at Chicago TBD
*Monday, April 27 TBD Chicago at Nashville TBD
SERIES G – P1 vs. W2 TIME (ET) Winnipeg-Anaheim NETWORKS
Thursday, April 16 10:30 p.m. Winnipeg at Anaheim CNBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 18 10:30 p.m. Winnipeg at Anaheim NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Monday, April 20 9 p.m. Anaheim at Winnipeg Sportsnet, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Wednesday, April 22 9:30 p.m. Anaheim at Winnipeg Sportsnet, TVA Sports, USA
*Friday, April 24 TBD Winnipeg at Anaheim Sportsnet
*Sunday, April 26 TBD Anaheim at Winnipeg Sportsnet
*Tuesday, April 28 TBD Winnipeg at Anaheim Sportsnet
SERIES H – P2 vs. P3 TIME (ET) Calgary-Vancouver NETWORKS
Wednesday, April 15 10 p.m. Calgary at Vancouver CBC, TVA Sports, USA
Friday, April 17 10 p.m. Calgary at Vancouver CBC, TVA Sports, CNBC
Sunday, April 19 10 p.m. Vancouver at Calgary CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Tuesday, April 21 10 p.m. Vancouver at Calgary CBC, TVA Sports, USA
*Thursday, April 23 TBD Calgary at Vancouver CBC
*Saturday, April 25 TBD Vancouver at Calgary CBC
*Monday, April 27 TBD Calgary at Vancouver CBC

* – if necessary TBD – To be determined (JIP) – joined in progress

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NASHVILLE, Tenn – The Jets were still buzzing as they had just made one of the biggest trades in the NHL as they sent injured and disgruntled winger Evander Kane and defenceman Zach Bogosian to the Buffalo Sabres for winger Drew Stafford and defenceman Tyler Myers along with prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux and a first round pick in this year’s draft. This was a massive deal for both clubs. The Jets new players Myers and Stafford were in the lineup tonight as they met their new teammates in Nashville for a big Central Division clash. The Jets threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Predators net but ended up on the losing end by a 3-1 margin.

“We knew that they were going to play hard,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “They’re in a position where they’re fighting, and they’re trying to make the most of everything that’s available to them. Those are good games for us to get into. The division games always seem to be a little bit tougher. Our games with Winnipeg have been the same, as well as tonight. Hard fought.”

Nashville is the first team to 80 points and sit in top spot overall in the West as well as the NHL. The Jets are now in a dog fight for the final two spots as they still hold down the first wild card position.

Pekka Rinne was in the pipes for the Predators and he has never lost to the Jets and is a perfect 7-0 against them. He stood on his head stopping 32 shots out of 33 total shots. He made a couple of beauties off Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little. He also got some help from his posts as the Jets hit three bars tonight. He was named the game’s first star.

“I thought that tonight was as hard of a game as we’ve had this year,” Rinne said. “It was a tight, even matchup, and both teams had some chances. Just a solid hockey game.”

Ondrej Pavelec was in net for the Jets and he made 23 saves off 26 Nashville shots. He wasn’t quite as busy but did make a couple great stops including one off Colin Wilson that will be on Sports Centre top ten for sure.

This was a really fast skating game not a lot of hits but they were all very hard hits. Nashville is a fast transition team and they had the Jets on their heels early before the Jets got things figured out and reversed the game and took it to the Preds. If not for some stellar goaltending the Jets could have easily won this game.

Special teams were a factor as both teams had their chances on the power play with Nashville going 2-6 and Winnipeg going 1-5 including a minute and a half two man advantage.

Winnipeg got its lone goal off the stick of Michael Frolik who tipped a Dustin Byfuglien shot for his 11th of the season.

Nashville got goals from Shea Weber his 13th , Filip Forsberg his 19th , James Neal his 19th.

“It was pretty open to be honest,” Forsberg said. “[Nashville defenseman Roman Josi] kind of pulled the whole PK over to one side and just gave it to me, so I had all the time in the world basically just to pick my corner. I got a really good screen from [forward James Neal] and also from their D-man so it was a pretty easy goal to score.”

Winnipeg will head to Detroit for a Saturday night show down against the Red Wings.

Follow me on Twitter @hrank94