The Canucks' first round series with the Blackhawks featured two of the top offensive teams in the regular season but, as it turned out, goal scoring became much harder to come by once the playoffs started especially for the Canucks. Vancouver was out-scored 22-16 in their series and heads into the second round as one of the lowest scoring teams in the playoffs.
It was a completely opposite story for the Predators in their opening round series against the Ducks. Nashville went into the post-season with the third fewest goals in the league (averaging 2.60) among teams that qualified for the playoffs - only the Canadiens and Kings had fewer regular season goals - and were supposed to be out-gunned by an Anaheim squad that boasted one of the best top lines in the NHL (Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan) and a not-too-shabby second line either (Selanne, Koivu, Blake).
Nashville's only hope, or so many thought, was to ride their defence and netminder Pekka Rinne if they wanted to get past the Ducks but it ended up being their offence that carried them in the series. Nashville out-scored Anaheim 22-20 in the series and notched at least three goals in all six games of that series. They also out-shot Anaheim in five of the six games averaging 31.7 shots per game - close to three shots more per game than their regular season average of 28.8.
The Canucks relied almost solely on the Sedin twins for offensive production through the early portion of their first round series and found themselves struggling to get on the scoresheet when the twins' production dropped. It wasn't until Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows began carrying the team on their backs in the final two games of the series that the Canucks started getting some of their swagger back.
On paper, the Canucks boast a more talented group up front when compared to the Predators and they should match-up well with them if the teams decide to employ an offence-first mentality. Then again, the Ducks were probably thinking the same thing in the first round.
Goal-scoring by committee was a theme for the Predators in Round One with 12 different players registering at least one goal and seven recording multiple tallies. The Canucks, by comparison, had nine players find the back of the net in the first round but only three - Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen - that did so more than once.
Nashville outscored Vancouver 8-6 in the regular season series.
The Canucks were supposed to be a dominant team on the back-end after giving up the fewest goals during the regular season - 10 less than the Predators who finished with the third-lowest GAA in the regular season - and having all of their projected top-six defencemen back and healthy to open the first round.
Things didn't quite live up to expectations for the Canucks, however. Vancouver gave up 22 goals in the opening round - among the most for all playoff teams in Round One - and ended up dressing eight different defencemen which is perhaps more than they had thought they would have to utilize.
While it would be easy to blame much of the Canucks defensive woes on shaky netminding particularly in Games Four and Five, Vancouver's blue-liners have to take a share of the blame as well. Vancouver's top shutdown duo of Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis were solid finishing with a combined plus-five rating but their other six defencemen were a combined minus-11. Aside from Bieksa and Hamhuis, only Keith Ballard escaped from a minus-rating as he finished with an even plus-minus rating.
The Predators didn't exactly have a banner series defensively either giving up 20 goals in their series which lasted six games but, at least compared to the Canucks, their even-strength play was far superior. Shane O'Brien was the lone blue-liner to finish with a minus-rating in the series at minus-two.
The Sedin line can likely expect a steady dose of Ryan Suter (27:28 average ice-time per game in Round One) and Shea Weber (26:29 average ice-time per game in Round One), two players whom Coach Barry Trotz leans on more than anyone else on his roster.
Both the Canucks and Predators have some special team woes they'd like to sort out in this series.
The Canucks didn't get much power play practice in Round One - they had just 18 power plays in total during the first round - and while they did click at a respectable 22.2 percent overall (4-for-18), they were blanked in their final three games of the series going 0-for-8 in that stretch. Prior to this current funk, Vancouver had not gone three-plus games without a power play goal since February 24 to March 5. Their power play nearly cost them the series in Game Seven as well as Vancouver gave up a shorthanded goal while enjoying a man-advantage in the dying minutes of regulation - a goal which tied the game at 1-1 and sent the contest into overtime.
The Predators' power play was atrocious during the regular season clicking at only 15.2 percent efficiency - the worst among all teams that qualified for the playoffs - but they got into a groove in their first round series scoring six times on 27 opportunities (22.2 percent efficiency). They scored at least one power play goal in five of their six games in the opening round.
Nashville's strong power play, however, was offset by their brutal penalty killing which is a reversal of how they fared in the regular season when they finished with the fifth best PK success rate in the league at 84.9 percent. Nashville gave up a power play goal in all six of their first round games and killed off just 63.6 percent of the Ducks' man-advantages (8 goals allowed on 22 times shorthanded). The six-game streak with at least one power play goal allowed is Nashville's longest of the season (they twice had five-game streaks during the regular season).
Vancouver's penalty kill was solid for the most part in their series against Chicago with the exception of a three-game slip up from Games 3-5 which saw them surrender six power play goals on 18 times shorthanded. They finished the series with a 79.3 percent kill rate (six goals allowed on 29 times shorthanded).
Both teams were near perfect on the penalty kill in head-to-head meetings during their regular season series as they combined for just one power play goal in four games. Vancouver had the only man-advantage marker courtesy of Daniel Sedin which came in the Canucks 3-1 loss in Nashville on February 17. Vancouver finished the regular season series killing off all 14 of Nashville's power plays while the Preds killed off all-but-one of the 16 man-advantages that the Canucks had.