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Playoff Buzz: Ducks, Predators set for Western Conference Final

Anaheim eager for rematch after first-round loss to Nashville last year

NHL.com @NHL

Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the 2016-17 postseason. Game 1 of the Western Conference Final between the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators is Friday. NHL.com writers covering the playoffs will be checking in throughout the day to give you latest news. Here is the playoff news for Friday:

 

4:40 p.m.
Anaheim, Nashville ready for conference final

The Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks are making their final preparations before Game 1 of the Western Conference Final at Honda Center in Anaheim on Friday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

It is a rematch of the 2016 first round best-of-7 series won by Nashville 4-3.

Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne is 8-2 in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs with two shutouts and has allowed one goal or fewer in six of 10 games. He's yet to allow more than three goals in a game. Nashville defensemen Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi and P.K. Subban have combined for 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in the postseason. Ellis has nine points (four goals, five assists), Josi has eight points (four goals, four assists) and Subban has seven points (one goal, six assists). LNH.com senior managing editor Arpon Basu explains how Subban remains a high-profile player in Montreal now that the Canadiens have been eliminated.

Anaheim defeated the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 in Game 7 in the second round to advance to its second conference final in three seasons. The Ducks have been spurred by captain Ryan Getzlaf, who has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists). Jakob Silfverberg (seven goals, four assists) and Rickard Rakell (six goals, four assists) have also chipped in offensively. NHL.com staff writer Lisa Dillman says John Gibson will look for a good start after making 23 saves in Game 7. 

This marks the eighth consecutive postseason that a California team will play in the Western Conference Final.

The play of Gezlaf and Rinne are among the 5 keys for Game 1.

11:52 a.m.
Need to know about Anaheim, Nashville

Here are some interesting facts to get you ready for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final between the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks.

* The Ducks are in the Western Conference Final for the second time in three years and fifth time in history (2003, 2006, 2007, 2015, 2017). Anaheim is aiming to return to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time, and first since their Stanley Cup title in 2007.

* The Predators, who are 8-2 in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and have won nine consecutive postseason games at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville dating to Game 6 of the 2016 First Round against Anaheim (5-0 in 2017), are appearing in the Western Final for the first time.

 

11:30 a.m.
Western Conference Final begins

The Predators and Ducks play Game 1 of the Western Conference Final on Friday. NHL.com director of editorial Shawn P. Roarke breaks down the series preview

One of the most intriguing matchups will be between the goaltenders. Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne has been outstanding through two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 1.37 goals-against average and .951 save percentage in 10 games (8-2). Anaheim goalie John Gibson hasn't been as sharp (.908 save percentage), but was excellent in a 2-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of the second round on Wednesday. Correspondent Kevin Woodley provides an inside look at the goalie matchup

 

11:15 a.m.
Numbers show how tight 2017 playoffs have been

Here are some numbers that illustrate just how competitive the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been through the first two rounds:

42 : The number of games decided by one goal (61.8%). Eight more have been decided by two goals following an empty-net tally (combined, 73.5%).

27: Games in which the winning team had to overcome a deficit of at least one goal (39.7%), including 13 that have overcome multigoal deficits.

23: Number of games that required overtime (33.8%). That's five shy of matching the NHL record for most in a single playoff year (28 in 85 games in 1993).

13: Games that have featured a team overcoming a deficit in the third period to win (19.1%), including five clubs that trailed by multiple goals in the third period.

10: Tying goals scored in the final five minutes of regulation, including seven in the last two minutes and three in the final 60 seconds.

6: Number of go-ahead goals scored in the final five minutes of regulation.

4: Number of games of the five multigoal, third-period comeback victories by teams still playing in the Conference Finals (Anaheim 2; Nashville 1; Ottawa 1).

 

9:30 a.m.

The Anaheim Ducks are the only regular-season division winner remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but according to experts from NHL.com and NHL Network, they will not reach the Stanley Cup Final.

A total of 21 writers, editors, analysts and hosts made their predictions for the conference finals, and 17 of them believe the Predators will win the series. Game 1 is at Honda Center in Anaheim on Friday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Here is a look at how they picked.

As in any series, the goaltending matchup is key. Here correspondent Kevin Woodley takes a look at the games of Ducks goalie John Gibson and Predators goalie Pekka Rinne.

The goalie battle, however, is just one aspect of the series. Correspondent Rob Vollman takes a statistical look at the series.

And for all the storylines of the Western Conference Final, senior writer Dan Rosen has you covered. 

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