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Predators prepare for battle with Canucks

by Dhiren Mahiban
VANCOUVER – As the Nashville Predators prepare for their first ever Western Conference Semifinal against the Vancouver Canucks, one of their main tasks will be to contain Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

Predators defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter will likely draw the bulk of that matchup as the two teams meet for the first time in the playoffs.

"It's going to be very challenging," Suter admitted. "They're right up there every year in scoring, leading the League and it's going to be a huge challenge. Hopefully we can get that matchup, but they have more than just that line going right now. It's going to be a tough thing, but we have a lot of good defensemen that can chip in and help out."

Henrik, who won the 2010 Art Ross Trophy, and Daniel, who will be presented the League's award to the regular season points leader in June, combined for 5 goals, 7 assists and a minus-6 rating in their seven-game series with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz wouldn't reveal much of his game plan for the series as the team arrived from Tennessee on Wednesday evening.

"That may not be the primary (matchup)," Trotz said. "It'll be part, but I mean we went into the Anaheim series having a game plan, as it evolved we changed it a little bit."

On the injury front there's good news for the Predators, as Martin Erat will be available for Game 1.

"Marty is ready to go, he practiced the last couple days with us," said Trotz. "He's excited and we're excited for him to come back in the lineup. He was a big hole to fill during that series."

Erat was injured in Game 4 of the Ducks series last Wednesday with what the team called an upper-body injury after the Predators forward was caught by a late hit from Jarkko Ruutu.

The 29-year-old practiced for the first time with Nashville on Tuesday, he had 1 goal and 2 assists in four games of Round 1.

Both teams sport one another's former blueliners in their lineup as Dan Hamhuis spent six seasons with Nashville, while Shane O'Brien spent two seasons with Vancouver.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told the media on Wednesday afternoon that he'd already had multiple discussions with Hamhuis regarding the Predators.

Hamhuis dressed in 483 games with the Predators, scoring 32 goals and added 161 points with a plus-3 rating.

O'Brien was benched soon after the Olympics last season for three games over weight issues. He was also late for a practice soon before being sat out of the lineup.

Trotz admitted he did have a brief conversation with O'Brien regarding the Canucks.

"I do a little bit," Trotz  said. "It's probably no different than Alain with Danny Hamhuis, but every team is different. You can talk about personnel, you can talk about different guys, but I didn't spend a whole lot of time talking with Shane about that.

"I think we have a pretty good handle on the players. The Center Ice package is great, you guys do a great job … there's not too many secrets anymore." 

The Predators and Canucks were 2-2 during the regular season.

Through the first round of the playoffs, the Predators lead the Canucks in goals per game (3.67) and shots per game (31.67). The teams were dead even with a 22.2-percent efficiency via the power play. 
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