Preds Arrive in Anaheim Set for First Western Conference Final
Nashville Expecting Physical, Skilled Series Against Ducksby Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator
When the Nashville Predators last paid a visit to Anaheim in the springtime, they were accomplishing historical firsts.
One year later, they're back, looking to do what no Preds team has done before.
After defeating the Edmonton Oilers late Wednesday night in Game Seven, the Anaheim Ducks advanced to the Western Conference Final to meet Nashville, the second consecutive season the two have faced each other in the postseason.
It was last April that Nashville defeated Anaheim in seven games, taking three of four at the Honda Center from the home club. The final victory in that series - a 2-1 win in Game Seven - was the first in Predators franchise history.
Now, having advanced to the Western Conference Final for the first time, the Preds want to add to their historic run, and it starts Friday evening in southern California.
"Last year's playoffs are a long time ago," Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "It's a different team, a different group and we're in a different spot right now. I guess probably the best thing to do is just keep our head down and keep doing the work."
Nashville has done just that thus far, owning an 8-2 record in these playoffs, with Anaheim's 8-3 mark right behind them. The Ducks ousted Calgary by sweeping the Flames in Round One, just as the Predators did to Chicago. Combined with a victory in Game Seven over Edmonton, the Ducks have made their presence felt in the West, presenting a formidable challenge for the Preds.
Video: Fisher, Forsberg and Sissons discuss Ducks' strengths
Anaheim likes to play a physical game, similar to the one put forth by St. Louis in Round Two against Nashville, and that's exactly what the Predators expect to see from the opening puck drop.
"They're going to be physical - that's what they do, and we want to do the same," Captain Mike Fisher said. "I thought we stepped up and played solid against St. Louis in a physical series, and we're going to need more of the same."
"They have skill, physicality, we know what type of a series it's going to be," Laviolette said. "We played them in the playoffs last year and a lot of the same pieces are in place. We have a pretty good idea of how they play, they probably have the same with us."
Facing the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler should give Nashville quite a test when it comes to matching speed against size and skill. But there's only so much planning for the opposition the Preds can do.
Video: Previewing the series between the Ducks and Preds
It's almost time for Nashville to continue writing their own story - one that will carry them through Orange County once more.
"As far as this group here, we really believe in who we are as a team and that's gone a long way," Fisher said. "I know a lot of people didn't at the start of these playoffs, but we did inside.
"There's so much on the line. The winner of this series gets to play for the Cup, so that's probably the only motivation you need."