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Coach's analysis: Ducks need power play to step up against Predators

Former Blues coach Davis Payne says Anaheim must solve man-advantage woes in Western Conference Final

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

For additional insight into the Western Conference Final between the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Davis Payne to break down the action. Payne will be checking in throughout the series.

Payne, 46, was coach of the St. Louis Blues from 2010-2011. The Blues were 67-55-15 under Payne.

He joined the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach on the staff of Darryl Sutter in the summer of 2012 and was with the Kings until this past April. He was on their coaching staff during their Stanley Cup championship run in 2014.

 

ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks were 0-for-4 on the power play against the Nashville Predators in a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final on Friday. They haven't scored with the man-advantage since Game 2 of the second round against the Edmonton Oilers.

Former St. Louis Blues coach Davis Payne believes it's something the Ducks need to correct when they host the Predators in Game 2 of the conference final on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

 

[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Ducks series coverage]

 

The Predators have been good about denying possession plays coming into their zone, Payne said. They are getting numbers across their blue line, the same way they do with their neutral zone forecheck.

"They've got to be really good on their power-play faceoffs," Payne said. "When they did that [Friday] night, they did generate some zone time."

Payne appreciated the creativity of Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler during a power play in the second period.

"They've got to be willing to take what's available to them, much like you saw in the second period when Fowler just kind of flipped that puck into the air and skated onto it," he said. "Now all of a sudden, they've got full possession. That's recognition of where space is to enter inside of the zone."

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm1: Silfverberg wires a wrister top shelf

Payne said it was obvious the Ducks and Predators were at different energy levels to start. The Ducks finished the second round on Wednesday but the Predators were coming off a longer layoff, having wrapped up their series against the Blues on May 7.

But he was impressed how the Ducks improved during Game 1, primarily with their physical play.

"I thought they built energy and momentum off that," he said. "The guys at the bottom end of their lineup, (Nate) Thompson, (Ondrej) Kase, (Jared) Boll had a couple of big hits. You can use that element to get engaged and mentally tied into the level that Nashville was at.

"They have to continue to make heavy contact, and that's what this series brought [Friday] night. It wasn't just consistent contact. Sometimes you've got a lot of guys finishing a lot of hits. [Friday] night, there was a lot of big hits. That heavy collision stuff is something that Anaheim knows and does well."

Payne admires the way Predators goalie Pekka Rinne prepares, saying he practices the way he plays in games and joked that it's "exhausting to watch." Rinne simply refuses to give up on pucks.

"You need better first-shot traffic," Payne said. "There's a lot of traffic on its way to the net. On (Hampus) Lindholm's goal, traffic was at the net when the shot was taken.

"They've just got to be a little more focused on getting there a step ahead of where they were [Friday] night. There's a lot of loose pucks in and around those areas. If they were one step quicker, they can cash in on some of those."

Easier said than done, of course.

"As a shooter, you are going to have to find a way to outwork the goalie," Payne said. "It's just plain and simple. That's a tough task because this guy is a worker."

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