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Coyotes vs Predators - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals

Five reasons Preds' Cup dreams went up in smoke

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

No team was as active as the Nashville Predators in the time leading up the NHL's trading deadline and with the moves they made -- trading for defenseman Hal Gill, center Paul Gaustad and wing Andrei Kostitsyn -- and then getting right wing Alexander Radulov back from the KHL in March, the Predators believed that they had as good a chance as anyone to win the Western Conference and play for the franchise's first Stanley Cup.

Even in defeat, the Predators seemed to voice the idea that they might have had a better team than Phoenix did -- or more talent -- but that the Coyotes played better.

In any event, after ousting Detroit in five games in the conference quarterfinals, the Preds did not expect to see themselves out in as many games against Phoenix. Here are five reasons why the Preds fell short of their lofty expectations:

Preds' season ends prematurely

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Nashville Predators made a series of changes at the trade deadline in order to beef up their offense and toughness -- and transform themselves into a fairer fight with the Detroit Red Wings, the Chicago Blackhawks and the other elite teams in the Western Conference.

And for one playoff series against the Red Wings, the plan worked to perfection. There was just one problem: The Blackhawks weren't waiting for them in the second round.

It was the Phoenix Coyotes, a team built more like the plucky Nashville teams of the past, who weren't interested in matching skill and were more than happy to grind in front of elite goaltender Mike Smith.

Schlemko hoping to help 'Yotes close another series

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He's once again in the lineup due to necessity, but the Phoenix Coyotes are hoping defenseman David Schlemko again plays the role of "closer" for the second time in these playoffs.

Schlemko subbed for the injured Michal Rozsival in Phoenix's 4-0 series-clinching, Game 6 win over Chicago, and now gets the call to replace the Coyotes' other Czech defenseman after Rostislav Klesla was suspended for one game by the NHL on Sunday.

Tippett said he was surprised and disappointed by the decision on Klesla's hit from behind on Matt Halischuk in Game 5. But while Klesla has been a top performer in these playoffs, it is a luxury to have rearguard depth like Schlemko -- who was part of the top six for three months before slicing a tendon in his foot with his own skate against the Islanders on Jan. 7.

"He's one of those guys right on the bubble, chomping at the bit to make an impact," Tippett said of Schlemko. "I'm glad he's had a couple of games in the playoffs and he knows what to expect. I think he'll come in and give us a real strong game."

Doan serves as mentor for Boedker

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. Mikkel Boedker and Shane Doan have been linemates during these Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they have sat next to each other in the Phoenix Coyotes dressing room for a lot longer.

Shane Doan
Right Wing - PHX
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 5
SOG: 33 | +/-: 4
The 35-year-old Phoenix captain has served as a friend, mentor and confidant to the Danish speedster since he arrived to the NHL as an 18-year-old in 2008 – using his blazing speed to score 11 times with far less than a complete game on a team filled with fuzzy faces while learning life in the NHL the hard way.

Boedker has become a huge cog in the Coyotes playoff push this season, scoring a pair of overtime goals and stepping in for the injured Lauri Korpikoski to play in a variety of situations. It is the culmination of hard work, perseverance and making the most of a two-year, 99-games stint with San Antonio of the American Hockey League.

But six games into the next season, new coach Dave Tippett and general manager Don Maloney – who decided players like Boedker, Kevin Porter Viktor Tikhonov and Kyle Turris had been rushed to the NHL too quickly – sent Boedker down to Texas.

Coyotes one win away from Conference Finals

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

The last time this franchise won a game this late into May, the 1979 Winnipeg Jets were playing the final World Hockey Association game ever – beating the Edmonton Oilers for their third Avco Cup championship before both teams were absorbed into the National Hockey League.

Only six of the current Phoenix Coyotes who beat the Nashville Predators 1-0 Friday night were even born in 1979. But this group, which now stands one win away from the Western Conference Finals, seems determined to experience the feeling of playing in June – and for a Cup much more storied than the Avco.

Radulov, A. Kostitsyn expected to return for Game 5

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

Alexander Radulov
Right Wing - NSH
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 6
SOG: 11 | +/-: 2
NASHVILLE – Predators coach Barry Trotz said a "high probability" exists that forwards Alex Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn will return to the lineup on Monday for Game 5 his team's Western Conference Semifinal series against the Phoenix Coyotes after they each missed the last two games.

Nashville trails in the series, 3-1, and Radulov leads the team in points with six in the Stanley Cup Playoffs while Andrei Kostitsyn's four tie him for fourth on the team. The players were suspended for Game 3 for a violation of team rules and then held out as a hockey decision for Game 4 after the Preds won Game 3 by 2-0 with a different lineup.

Klesla hearing set for Sunday


Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesla will have a hearing on Sunday afternoon with the National Hockey League following an incident in Friday's 1-0 victory at Nashville.

Klesla was penalized in the first period for boarding Predators forward Matt Halischuk right in front of the Coyotes' bench. Replay showed Klesla appeared to grab Halischuk's jersey before pushing him into the boards. Halischuk went to the locker room briefly but was able to return.

Predators pay price for missed chances

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE – Three times in less than seven minutes during the second period of Friday night's 1-0 loss to Phoenix, the Nashville Predators had golden opportunities to get on the scoreboard.

Not only did they not score, they didn't even hit the net.

In the Predators' eyes, that was where Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinal series was lost.

"I thought we generated lots of chances, just didn't find the back of the net in the end," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "Take away the first period -- [in the] second and third period I thought we played very well. Got some quality chances and couldn't find the back of the net."

Fast start pays off for Coyotes

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

NASHVILLE -- So much of playoff hockey as a series moves along is a response to a response. The Phoenix Coyotes proved that at the start of Game 4 of their Western Conference Semifinal series with the Nashville Predators on Friday night.

The Predators, unhappy with how they played in Game 2, had a fast start to Game 3 on Wednesday and grabbed an early two-goal lead on the way to a 2-0 victory. The Coyotes, unhappy with their start in Game 3, returned the favor Friday in Game 4.

Battered Klesla plays on for Coyotes

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

NASHVILLE -- The discoloration is his right eye is almost gone, and his playoff beard has grown out enough to obscure the stitches in his chin.

As the days pass, Rostislav Klesla's face is returning to normal, but the memories of a rough week in the Stanley Cup Playoffs remain. The Phoenix Coyotes' defenseman left Game 6 against Chicago in the opening round when the knob of Brendan Morrison's stick caught him in the eye as they fell to the ice near at the side of the net in the second minute.

He returned to the game and helped the Coyotes finish off the Blackhawks. After finishing Game 6 and then playing Game 1 against Nashville in this Western Conference Semifinal series with a full cage to protect his eye, Klesla decided to switch to more typical half-shield visor because he was uncomfortable with his ability to see the puck at his feet.

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