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Coyotes Turn Attention To Predators

by Anthony Perez / Arizona Coyotes
GLENDALE -- After getting a day off on Tuesday, the Coyotes returned to Arena on Wednesday morning to turn their attention to the Nashville Predators and what will be the first Western Conference Semifinals appearance for the franchise since moving to the Valley in 1996.

Wednesday included a team meeting to go over the schedule for the first week of the series, and then some players participated in on-ice drills, while others participated in off-ice workouts.

Afterward, Head Coach Dave Tippett talked about Nashville and the challenges the Predators pose to his team.

Dave Tippett
“They work hard, they play a good structure,” Tippett said. “Their goaltending has obviously been very good. The one thing I think about Nashville that people don’t realize is that their skill level is very underrated. They’ve got some people, they’ve added some people; the Kostitsyns (forwards Andrei and Sergei), (forward Alexander) Radulov obviously, (forward Martin) Erat; all high-skilled players that are real good players.”

Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker, who scored the game-winning goals in Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, said Nashville will be just as tough to beat as the Chicago Blackhawks were.

“It’s going to be a tighter series,” Boedker said. “They obviously play a little more defensive. Chicago had a lot of puck and hopefully we can have a little more puck in this series. It’ll be a good series, it’ll be a defensive battle against two good goalies and we’re excited.”

Like the Coyotes, Nashville’s success starts between the pipes. Goaltender Pekka Rinne compiled a 4-1 record with a 1.81 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in his team’s quarterfinals series with Detroit.

“I’m sure both teams will be talking about the same thing, you’ve got to get pucks on net and you’ve got to have people in front of the goaltenders and hope you get some second chances,” Tippett said. “Goals will probably be hard to come by; by the way both of these goaltenders have played so far.”

Nashville provides plenty of support for Rinne along the blueline, most notably with the tandem of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.

Boedker said he and his teammates are going to have to work hard and not waste any scoring opportunities against the defense.

Mikkel Boedker
“You’ve just got to create your own chances. That’s obviously something that you always strive for,” Boedker said. “Every time you have the puck you want to create (chances), but you’ve also got to think to put the puck in the right areas and just make sure that we keep the puck on our side and just make sure that you don’t just mess around with it, but you have a purpose every time you have it.”

Captain Shane Doan said the main key to beating Nashville is that he and his teammates will need to have an “all hands on deck” approach that matches the team effort of the Predators.

“We definitely think there’s another level that we need to get to,” Doan said. “You look at our group of forwards up front; we got unbelievable contributions from everybody (in Round One). It seems like everyone stepped up and was helpful and did their jobs, but nobody really went beyond what we expect of them, and we’re going to need guys to go beyond what you expect of guys. That’s what the playoffs are all about.”

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