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Predators go back to work after day off, await next opponent

Nashville will face Oilers-Ducks Game 7 winner in first trip to Western Conference Final

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators are trying to strike the right balance between rest and preparation heading into their first Western Conference Final.

The Predators will play the winner of Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round between the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports). Nashville will start the conference final at either Edmonton or Anaheim.

After staying off the ice Tuesday, the Predators practiced Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena. They defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-1 in Game 6 of their second-round series Sunday.

"We didn't do much [Tuesday]," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "I think that not only the physical break but the mental break for the players was important. We had that opportunity, so we took it. [Wednesday] was a work day, [Thursday] will be a real good work day, both in the room and on the ice. And then we'll be moving somewhere and we'll continue to work at it.

"While you think there's a lot of time to prepare the team, we're not going to prepare them for two teams. So we've got to be patient and just find out where we're going (Edmonton or Anaheim) and who we're playing and then we'll get the guys ready from there."

The Predators plan to watch the Oilers and Ducks on Wednesday and try to pick up details they can use to their advantage during the conference final.

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"It is unique in the fact that I'll sit down tonight and watch a hockey game knowing that we're going to move forward and play one of those teams," Laviolette said. "I think for me it'll just be, and the other coaches as well I guess, just the comfort of watching a game. You can see the whole thing play out from a systems standpoint."

The Predators feel like they have been able to find a good balance between managing their rest and making sure they stay sharp and ready for what comes next. They had five days between finishing their four-game sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round and the start of the second round against the Blues. They showed no rust, winning Game 1 4-3 at St. Louis.

"I think we're in a fortunate position where even in the last round, we used all of our forwards," Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "Guys are ready to go all the time and we've been able to rotate guys and stay fresh, I guess. It's a big thing. We have more depth than maybe before, but also it helps that after the first round we had some time off and had time to recover and heal up."

Edmonton and Anaheim present different challenges stylistically, which makes their game even more intriguing for Nashville.

"I'm very excited," Rinne said. "It's going to be an interesting game. Like all of those games, when you feel like Anaheim's got the momentum, the next game the Oilers come out and put up a 5-0 lead in the first [period]. That just goes to show how much firepower they have and how much talent they have. Totally different teams, and it's going to be very interesting to see who we face."

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