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Conference Final

Coach's analysis: Ducks need to be better on faceoffs against Predators

Former Blues coach Davis Payne says Anaheim didn't do 'little competitive elements' in circle in Game 3

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 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.

 

The Anaheim Ducks don't often lose the faceoff battle as decisively as they did in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against the Nashville Predators.

Former St. Louis Blues coach Davis Payne noted the 'little competitive elements' that start on a faceoff and how it helped translate into the story of the game Tuesday night. Nashville won 2-1 at Bridgestone Arena and leads the best-of-7 series 2-1. 

Game 4 is in Nashville on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Ducks won 44 percent of their faceoffs in Game 3 (28 of 63), their worst showing since they won 42 percent in Game 4 against the Calgary Flames in the first round.

"The game was played fast and the game was played hard," Payne said. "But there is an added element right inside the competition that [Ducks captain] Ryan Getzlaf is great at, and I didn't think he got there [Tuesday] night.

"They were moving. They were working. I think to a man they would say we didn't win our share of those [battles] and a clear indicator is when the Ducks lose a faceoff battle like they did. It's not very often Ryan Kesler is at [41] percent on faceoffs."

Getzlaf has been held without a point in two of the three games against the Predators. In Game 2, he had three assists. To be fair, his level has been so high during the Ducks postseason run that a drop in play tends to stand out.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm1: Rinne denies Getzlaf from the doorstep

"You didn't notice him enough or as much as you did in prior games, just in terms of elevating the confrontation, elevating the one-on-one competition," Payne said. "He has been a guy that turned the thermostat up and I didn't think he was that guy [Tuesday] night. I didn't think many of the Anaheim guys had a switch there."

Getzlaf, of course, can't go it alone. Much of the responsibility going forward rests with the Andrew Cogliano-Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg line. 

"[Kesler] is a Selke Trophy [nominee] for a reason," Payne said. "They just don't give it just for shutting people down. That line is a really good forechecking line, a really good possession line in the offensive zone. I think they need to get more of that and get more effective with their forecheck.

"Cogliano had a fantastic year. We know what Silfverberg can do. That line can kill you two ways. They can snuff you out and they can put up goals. A little more focus and executing and being hard with the puck and cycling in the offensive zone would go a long way for them. They need more than just Getzlaf doing that."

Nashville continually crashed the net and Payne believes the Ducks will do the same in Game 4. The Predators had success bumping into and getting in the way of Ducks goaltender John Gibson and that very likely will spark imitation. Payne expects Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne to see more congestion coming his way.

"There's an effect that it has when the goaltender knows that people are continuing to come at you, people are continuing to intentionally bump into you," Payne said. "You've not only got to do your job but you've got to stay focused and disciplined about all that stuff.

"It has an effect over one game and from start to finish -- first period to third period -- and it has an effect over a series. You know that Anaheim is going to make the adjustment and they're going to deny access to the net much better and they're probably going to turn their attention toward the other team's net."

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