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Discipline critical for Predators in first round

Nashville determined to play smart against Ducks' top-ranked special teams

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators know special teams will be a big factor in determining the winner of their series against the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Game 1 is Friday at Honda Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, FS-TN).

Anaheim finished the regular season first in the NHL on the power play (23.1 percent) and the penalty kill (87.2 percent). Nashville knows it must be disciplined to avoid taking too many penalties and must be opportunistic on the power play.

"We know obviously with their numbers, that'll be part of it," Predators forward Mike Fisher said. "Part of our plan is to just make sure we're playing smart, capitalize when we can. We know it'll be a big part of the game, special teams, so we want to make sure we're bringing our 'A' game on both sides. Hopefully it'll swing in our favor."

The Predators have been looking forward to returning to the playoffs since they were eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round in six games last season.

"It's awesome," captain Shea Weber said. "I think you ask any guy in here, it's the best time of the year. It's what you play for. We're excited. We've obviously got a lot of practice time here, which is good. Get some work in and fly out to Anaheim and get to work."

The Ducks and Predators will be the last series to begin, but the Predators aren't concerned about having too much time off. They think the six-day layoff will have no effect on their performance Friday.

"There's two schools of thought to that," coach Peter Laviolette said. "One is they're rested, and one is they've got to get going but they're going to be off for a while too. If you think about it, they played [Sunday] so they're off for four or five days. I'm not worried about that. I'd rather have our guys healthy and ready to play."

Forward Miikka Salomaki participated in a full practice Monday. He missed the final three games of the regular season with an undisclosed injury.

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